Bullpen Concerns Escalating as Trade Deadline Draws Near

(John McCoy/Getty Images)

Simply put, Kenley Jansen isn’t the same as he was in years past.

Maybe it was the offseason heart surgery. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s over the age of 30 and his mojo is fading. Whatever the case may be, Jansen is on pace for his most ineffective year as a pitcher.

At the moment, Kenley’s ERA is sitting at 3.67, far and away the worst of his career. Last season, many felt he was on a downturn after enduring a few health scares in mid-season and extensive usage during the postseason.

Things got so bad for Jansen in Friday night’s 4-2 victory against the Nationals that he walked a run home—right in the middle of a critical save situation.

“He’s a guy that always had command, but after then he Eaton with that cut fastball and from that point on, he just couldn’t find it,” skipper Dave Roberts said in the postgame. “Tonight wasn’t a good night.”

However, Kenley and the Dodgers still found a way to secure the win—a theme that has stuck with the squad from the very beginning of its 2019 campaign.

Regardless of the Dodgers’ overall success, there’s still a bit of time for Kenley himself to get things straightened out. But, if the management crew of the Dodgers is banking on the fact that Jansen will conceivably return to his former self, the team may be in trouble by the time the playoffs roll around.

As far as internal alternatives go, Pedro Baez has been decent this year. Yet, like Jansen, it just feels like Pedro isn’t quite the same as he was in the first half of the season. Besides, while he could be considered an effective seventh or eighth inning arm, most would agree he’s far from being a premiere closer.

Seemingly, lefty Julio Urias has been the most effective of the entire Los Angeles relief crew as of late, but it’s almost unreasonable to put the burden of saving games in the postseason on the shoulders of a youngster who has never closed in his career and, more importantly, is rebounding from 2018 shoulder surgery.

Joe Kelly has been throwing well recently, and there’s a possibility that he keeps getting better as the stretch run of the regular season approaches. However, his ERA is this year is still well over 5.00 and his WHIP is above 1.50. Even if you look at his last 10 games, he still has allowed eight hits and two walks that have resulted in five runs, although just two of them have been ruled as earned.

And, the remaining quartet—Casey Sadler, Caleb Ferguson, JT Chargois and Yimi Garcia—isn’t really much to write home about.

Sadler, who was designated for assignment by Tampa Bay at the end of June, was warming when Jansen was fighting off a Washington rally in the bottom of the ninth on Friday night. With Baez and Kelly having already been used, the remaining options to rescue Kenley were not attractive to say the least.

As far as the latest trade rumors go, the Dodgers appear to be among the front-runners for Kansas City southpaw Jake Diekman. We took a close look at the lefty last week and deemed that he would not be a significant upgrade over what the team has right now.

Additionally, there have been increasing talks surrounding Mets starter Noah Syndergaard. While such an acquisition would be a huge upgrade to the Los Angeles rotation, it wouldn’t exactly solve the back-end bullpen dilemma, even if Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling are eventually shifted to the relief crew to help out.

If the Dodgers want to make a strong run deep into the postseason, Andrew Friedman and his troops need to make a statement with an exceptional upgrade—or two—to the squad’s existing relief corps. Of all the playoff campaigns over the last seven years, this 2019 version has the feel of having the best chance to bring home a long-awaited World Championship.

In some shape or form, how it all plays out may depend on what happens over the next several days.


87 thoughts on “Bullpen Concerns Escalating as Trade Deadline Draws Near

  1. Feels like an extension of the previous thread. Fewer ads to wade through. That’s a good thing.

    Chatter has us as favorites for Greene. That’s what the voices are telling me too. They are also telling me that Jansen is past his prime. We won’t see the consistent 2 or less FIP from here on out. He can still be effective at times, but I would be looking somewhere else for that door slamming 1 run lead stopper.

    I’m not so certain that adding another string starter wouldn’t help the back end of the bullpen. Having Maeda, Urias, Jansen, Stripling, Kelly, Baez and Hill down there to collectively turn the lights off in post season games sounds fine to me. That’s a lot of experience. Those guys would not be intimidated by the pressure situations. Especially if they know it’s not ALL on them. Add Greene to the that list and it could be the best pen going in October.

  2. I’m not a huge fan of Greene’s. Yes, he’s probably better than most of what we have now, but if that’s all we get, we aren’t going to win a WS.
    Here’s a brilliantly novel idea which I’m sure you’ll all sign on to: Trade for Thor, then convince him to be our closer for the rest of the year. Next year he can go back to starting. Speak of thinking outside the box! I can’t understand why Andrew never responds to my emails or phone calls. It must be Verizon’s fault.

    1. Thor as closer. Gotta admit I like the visual. All 6’6” of him running to mound, hair blowing behind him with the Ragnarok Theme song blasting from those center field Death Star speakers.

      Won’t happen, but Jefe, I love it.

  3. Stripling to the 10 day IL and Schultz re-called. Verdugo in the leadoff spot with Joc hitting 8th right behind Smith. That’s novel, but probably wise having a power hitting threat behind the rookie. What is truly maddening about Jansen this year is that he will come out of the pen, have maybe 3 or 4 shut down appearances in a row and then implode when he is needed the most. Maddening. 4 days left to at least improve the pen. I like it Jefe. Actually makes a lot of sense. Rumor has it that the asking price for Vazquez is Ruiz AND May….doubt AF would pull the trigger on that deal.

  4. Roberts said today that Kike to the IL was almost certain, but that does not mean that Lux is automatically getting the call.

    1. I really wouldn’t have a problem if they kept Lux down on the farm until September or even until next spring. He’s had very few at bats at OKC and I think playing every day would be in his best interests. I don’t think he would start on a regular basis if they brought him up, although I could be mistaken about that.
      My feeling is that if Kike goes on the IL, we’ll wind up with a utility infielder type when we make one of our trades for a reliever. Someone who will probably go to OKC when Kike comes back.

  5. Phillies traded for Pirella from SD. Utility infielder. With Miller going to the IL they had a need and the Giants DFA’d Ty Blach. Not pitching well at AAA at all and has not been the guy he was last year. One of their better prospects is coming off the restricted list and they needed the roster spot. Oh yeah, Turner is in the 2 hole today. Pollock hitting 3rd and Belli in the cleanup spot. Joe Ross is named the starter for today.

    1. They got 2 minor leaguers, one of them is 20 and the other 26. Neither was on the A’s top 30 prospect list.

      1. Obviously AF is targeting someone else.

        I figured Lux would be up in September. He could get here earlier if there’s an injury.

  6. I would have gladly given 2 throw away prospects for Diekman. Missed opportunity to get better right there.

    1. Obviously, AF did not agree.. D-Backs are definitely going to be sellers according to MLB trade rumors. They have some interesting pieces, but like SF, I doubt they are going to want to make the Dodgers better.

  7. Smith more productive in first 2ab’s back than Martin and Barnes have been in the last month! Welcome back Prince of LA!

  8. Some guys are just better when the bright lights and pressure is on them. I believe that’s the case with Will Smith. He has been great at AAA but even better in the big leagues. Some are just made for the show. This is why I’m very confident that Smith will never give up how spit again or be sent back down. It his time now and he looks to be the perfect guy to have behind the plate for the next several years. What that means to Keibert Ruiz time will tell but as far as I’m concerned Smith is the total package behind the plate. It’s going to be interesting if the Dodgers choose to keep Martin as the primary backup into the playoffs are will they eventually cut him loose for Barnes to come back.

  9. It looks like we are about to see Gavin Lux. He is not in the lineup for OKC’s game tonight with Kike’ hitting the IL the team has no backup SS.

  10. Smith has nowhere to go but down. The league will catch up to him soon enough. If he’s all you say he is Alex, he will adjust.

    What’s that? Hernandez to IL? Imagine that. Who knew?

    1. Not yet according to what I have read so far. That would leave them without a backup SS. No real replacement at AAA except Lux. Dodgers want him playing everyday. New on MLB trade rumors is a rumor that the Dodgers are interested in Stroman. I know the Mets have an interest in him also as do the Astros since the asking price for Thor is astronomical.

      1. I figured the Yankees would be all over Stroman. I also think Bumgarner is a fit there.

        Things should pick up any minute.

      2. Giants still not sellers. Yanks system not good enough for Stroman. Mets are interested in Stroman…maybe Dodgers could get Stroman and flip him for Thor!

      3. Yankees have three 55 rated prospects, all in the Top 100, and several more rated at 50. I think after what has happened in Boston, they know they have to get creative.

  11. since the Pirates seem to be in love with Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith playing like he is is everyone ok dealing our top prospect (Lux is our real top prospect) plus a couple more guys in the top 30 of our farm system for Vazquez. There’s no chance they get Ruiz AND Dustin May but I’d seriously consider Ruiz and a couple 11-20 type guys.

  12. I’m in Alex, I would not give up two of our top four, but what you propose is fair, and we can live with it without gutting our system.

    1. I really do hate giving up a prime prospect, especially a position player and even more valuable a catcher that switch hits. Relievers truly are volatile in that they burn out in an instant. Vazquez is the type of talent though that you have to make a deal for. If they can’t land a true star reliever then you shouldn’t trade a top guy. Better to find someone like Seth Lugo, Shane Greene, Amir Garrett or Alex Colome.

  13. Finishing up the previous thread regarding Jansen – if he insists on closing then ask him to drop his no trade clause and he can close somewhere else. If he says no, then tell him get his head and ass wired together and pitch where he’s told to pitch or he can exercise his opt out at the end of the year. The bottom line here is he has lost his mojo, his diablerie done diasappeared. He’s paid to pitch, so he will pitch – right after Kelly and/or right before Vasgreendiaz. An overpaid set up guy, but maybe a demotion will be a motivation. Maybe it won’t work, but, we are paying him either way. This closing thing is fixable. Fix it.

      1. I had it wrong.

        After re-reading it that’s how I see it. I also see him as untradable without sending lawyers guns and money along with him. $19 million, then $20 million plus whatever is left this year. Who the hell would pick that up considering how he’s pitched for some time now. Too risky. Find a new closer, demote him and hope he opts out. Spoiler alert: he won’t.

  14. Am I reading incorrectly? He has an opt-out after this season which I knew about, but he doesn’t have a no trade. If he’s traded he gets a million dollar kicker. Considering the size of his contract an extra mil is nothing to the team that would acquire him or the Dodgers should they decide to trade him. Am I missing something?

  15. We absolutely need to trade for a high end closer this week. Kenley is not getting the job done at this point. That said, I’m astonished at how Kershaw has remade himself and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Kenley could do the same thing by continuing to incorporate non-cutter pitches into his arsenal. At this point, he’s basically untradeable if we don’t absorb some money and he shouldn’t be our closer, but that isn’t to say he might not be our closer again before his contract is up. Stranger things have happened.

  16. I think his ego is writing checks his body can’t cash! His last interview was pretty much me, me , me. He is clearly not the same pitcher, and although he has made some adjustments, he still leaves the ball in the middle of the plate way too much. The last outing after he got the first two hitters, he, in my eyes, started over throwing the ball. The when he lost the zone, he was pulling his pitches. He got the save, but it was really ugly. I think we can expect more of those before the season’s end. No wonder I have no hair left!

  17. Bad game all around, but I am not going to sit here and crucify Joc. Strasburg outpitched Buehler pure and simple. He shut them down and got the win. He should not be the 1st baseman, but that’s the way it is going to be.

    1. Good way to look at it Bear. Strasburg, a very good pitcher, was on his game today and Buehler was not. We won 2 out of 3 from what might be the hottest team in the league and did it in their ballpark. Successful series. Now let’s hope nothing terrible happens in the House of Horrors called Coors Field.

      1. Dodgers have played pretty well there the last couple of years. They have also had some stinkers there. Maeda has done well there. Tuesday is going to be a BP game most likely. Ryu on the other hand has not had very good games there. Rocks released Matt Reynolds and the relief pitcher Oh. Muncy has one of the highest BA there in the majors. Good time to pull out of this offense funk they are in BEFORE they face the Pads for 4 at home.

      2. I hope we have our hitting shoes on for that series. If you schedule a bullpen game the day before Ryu starts and Ryu has done poorly there, you’d better get the OKC shuttle ready. We’ll probably use up every pitcher we have during those three days plus, of course, the six we’re going to trade for.

      3. We just traded him for Vazquez, even up. Friedman wanted them to include Bell also, but they said no. 🙂

    2. Yeah, bad game all around. 3 more unearned runs and 4 more given up by the bullpen.

      Playing players out of position is a bad idea.

      A bad bullpen will not win a championship. Neither will a bad defense.

      But, be here now. We won two of three in Washington and we did it with an inferior bullpen and a faulty defense.

      And….. we wait………..

      1. A couple of blurbs on Twitter from beat writers that the Dodgers are in serious talks with the Tigers about Greene. Makes sense. Lead will be cut to 14 barring a comeback by the Pads who are losing to the Giants in the 9th.

      2. If Greene is the second or third best pitcher we get this week OK but if he’s the best one we get I’ll be pissed.
        I’m not a huge fan.
        On the other hand if he’s really good and I’m wrong about this, I’ll personally apologize to him.

      3. I agree he is not the best option maybe, but he has been pretty good. And remember, AF said they will be aggressive, but will back off from anything they consider stupid.

      4. What do you think Bear? Is Ruiz/Lux/May/Gray for Vazquez stupid? You don’t have to answer that question.
        Maybe AF will surprise us and get Thor. The Mets supposedly want MLB or MLB-ready players.
        Here’s my trade: Joc, Ferguson/Floro, Gonsolin/White, Barnes (nah, the Mets wouldn’t do it)

      5. Lux and May are untouchable. Smith’s play and the fact they are deep at catcher in the minors makes Ruiz a definite possibility. As for Joc, they are loaded with LH hitting outfielders and have no need. I would think they want a MLB ready pitcher. Maeda or Ferguson would fill that need. If they want guys who are close, White and Gonsolin.

  18. I understand now why AF traded for White. If you look at the roster at OKC, there are no RH hitters who play 1st base except Connor Joe who was just promoted not too long ago. I still think it was not a great move and watching him hit today, I had no reason to change my mind. We will probably see him at 1st in Colorado since recently recalled Freeland is starting one of the games for the Rockies.

    1. Facially, he could be Muncy’s brother. Body-wise he’s two of Muncy. Maybe Max could tell him what he did to slim down this past off-season. I think he needs to drop a few pounds. I can’t believe he ever played second base, unless it was in little league. On the other hand, he has had success as recently as last year. Maybe we’ll get lucky again.

      1. The Dodgers are heavy into nutrition. They have a policy of healthy foods in the clubhouse. Most of them are on no dairy diets too. Not sure how this will sit with the obvious pizza loving White

      2. Who the hell is Kris Negron and where in the hell did he come from..never heard of him

  19. Report on twitter that Gonsolin is being recalled from OKC. I would think he would be part of the bullpen brigade on Tuesday.

  20. Negrón looks like a 33 year old stiff to me. Not Lux for contract reasons?

    Doesn’t matter really. 14.5 game lead. We can bob and weave for a month.

    1. Roberts explanation is that they want Lux playing everyday. He would not be doing that up there with the Dodgers. September looks more likely just to get his feet wet. Since OKC has no chance of being in the playoffs.

      1. That’s bullsh*t. Everybody on this team plays everyday. Put Lux at second and Muncy at first and the defense improves immediately. At bats at the Major League level would be invaluable for Lux. This isn’t about playing every day, this is about service time.


        We don’t need him. We have Negrón and White. (Sounds like types of wine) Like I mentioned, with a 14.5 game lead, we can rope-a-dope for a month.

      2. Don’t shoot the messenger Scoop. I just posted what Doc said. I would rather see him on the roster than this Negron character. He has never played more than 45 games at the big league level. The only reason I can see they did it is because Lux is another lefty bat, and they are lefty heavy.

      3. I would never shoot you Bear, That verbal assault was aimed at Roberts and the Dodgers. I’m so tired of those who are allowed to do the talking doing so out of both sides of their mouths.

        Lefty heavy? I know you don’t buy into that nonsense. Can he hit? Put him in there and bat him 8th. He won’t do worse that Barnes or Negrón.

      4. True…they do a lot of doubletalk. But I am pretty sure this decision was not Roberts but the big cheese in the club level.

  21. Got him for Daniel Castro….came from Seattle. No stick kind of player. Brings nothing on offense. I would guess he is stop gap til Kike is healthy.

  22. Well Floro will be back probably today. He finished his re-hab stint with RC. Sources now say the Dodgers are talking with the Mets about Diaz. Heyman reported that the Dodgers and Pirates have discussed Vazquez. And there are a lot of reports saying the Pirates still not inclined to trade him so far. Heyman also said that the Pirates would want both May and Ruiz and maybe on lesser player. I would trade Ruiz, but not May. If they wanted White or Gonsolin, I might go that way. I would trade one of those guys to the Mets for Diaz though. Castro, the player traded to the Mariners for our season savior, Negron, was hitting around .245 at OKC. Considered a good fielder, but like Negron, no stick. Negron was hitting .291 at AAA with 12 dingers.

  23. Brewers got Lyles from the Pirates, so another domino falls. Wonder who goes down when Floro is activated…probably Schultz. Also who is going to head down when they bring up Gonsolin..if that move is indeed made. 2 1/2 days to the deadline……

  24. As far as being lefty heavy, my take is this, you cannot get better unless you play against that kind of competition. Belli has improved at that. Muncy actually has a higher average against lefty’s than righty’s. Here is a weird one. It’s reported that the Brewers are open to trading Grandal, ???? They must think they are not coming close to making the playoffs. They did trade for Lyles from the Buc’s today. Weird. Well AF has to sh** or get off the pot in the next 2 1/2 days. What will be will be….

    1. Grandal rumor – 2 possibilities
      1) Totally false
      2) They have a decent backup catcher and feel that the pitching they could get back by trading Grandal (whose contract is up at the end of the year) would be worth it. My guess is there are more contenders looking for pitching than catching so that might be a difficult trade to pull off.

      1. Not false at all and supposedly they have Moustakis on the block too. Dodgers signed a reliever today, actually a few minutes ago…Tyler Thornburg.

      2. Thornburg could turn out to be a Friedman Special. Had a great 2016 for the Brewers and then injured his shoulder which was operated on in 2017. Hasn’t been the same since, but shoulder problems take a while to come back from. Has elite spin rates for those who care (AF does).

      3. Be nice if he would. They finally placed Kike on the 10 day, activated Negron, who gets Grandal’s # 9. and sent Schultz to OKC and brought up Sborz.

  25. Negron already listed on the 25 man. Kike has not been put on the IL as of right now, but that is just a formality I would think. Santana at AA Tulsa is ripping it up this month. 22 years old is probably a rule 5 guy this winter unless he is added to the 40 man roster. Alvarez on the 7 day IL again. He is just taking up roster space. And Santana is not pitching well at all down there at OKC.

  26. Back at # 1 in the power ratings. Dodgers have been good against the Rocks pitcher tonight, and Maeda has been good against the Rocks in Denver. Gray was just recalled about a week ago. 4-5 against the Dodgers with an ERA over 4 in his career. 9-7 this year.

  27. Dodger hitters in the lineup against Gray…Belli. 643, Muncy. 333, and 2 dingers, Joc, 192, but has 2 dingers against him, Pollock, 383, Seager. 375 with a homer. Turner 320, and Verdugo .500 with a homer. Smith has never hit against him.

  28. Pressure building on AF to make a splash. Since 2000, LA has made 55 deals at the deadline. NY Yanks, 56 and the Bo Sox 57.

    1. What pressure? He just traded Rosscup, signed Thornburg and got Negron and White. You want more?

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