A Very Preliminary Look at the 2020 Bullpen


We’ve reached the time in October when the World Series is set to begin. While many fans of the Dodgers may not be watching or even paying attention to the playoffs for varying reasons, I for one am intrigued to see if the underdog Washington Nationals can indeed take down the mighty Houston Astros.

A lot of the discourse leading up to the series has been about the starting pitching. In the ALCS specifically, it was about both teams’ lack of a true fourth starter. Game 4 of that series boiled down to what was a bullpen game for both teams, and it does sting some that the Dodgers ironically would have been able to handle that better than most clubs.

On Friday and Saturday, Dennis covered both the possibility of Rich Hill coming back and the Dodgers’ options at starters for the upcoming season. In 2020, in order for the game to move more quickly, a thing that MLB has deemed a “problem”, a change will be enacted for the bullpen. When a new arm is brought in in relief, that pitcher will be required to stay in the game to face at least three batters.

So how will this affect the makeup of the rest of the Dodgers pitching staff beyond the starters? As Dennis discussed, the Dodgers have more than five starters currently, and one would believe that the Dodgers would try to get at least one front line starter whether they re-sign Hyun-Jin Ryu or go after a big name free agent along the lines of Gerrit Cole. The role of someone like a Ross Stripling or a Dustin May or a Tony Gonsolin, one or more of whom would not make the starting rotation, may be more important in the bullpen.

Currently, the Dodgers have these arms competing for spots in the bullpen for next season – Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly, Adam Kolarek, Dylan Floro, Casey Sadler, JT Chargois, and Caleb Ferguson. Yimi Garcia and Scott Alexander are arbitration eligible in 2020.

This move will basically render the LOOGY obsolete, so that would change Kolarek’s usage. Another thing that has gone by the wayside, at least in recent years for the Dodgers, is the number of innings that a starter goes into the game. Gone are the days of a starter consistently going seven or eight innings, let alone finishing out the game. This is a combination of the Dodgers employing pitchers who either need to be on lower pitch counts due to past surgeries, or ones like Kershaw and Ryu who pitch more to contact, and are not blowing the ball past batters.

As the Dodgers have been in the playoffs every year for the last seven, and gone deep in two of them, I’m all for having more long arms to back up the starters than just using a slew of arms to finish out the game. It will be interesting to see who makes the bullpen out of spring training, how Joe Kelly heals over the winter, how Jansen looks, and if they can ultimately put together a bullpen that doesn’t rely on using Kershaw to try to save the game for them. Maybe an early exit from the playoffs could be a blessing in disguise, at least as far as innings pitched and wear and tear on arms goes.

As I am always pulling for the underdog and am a National League girl, I heartily say, Go Nats!


13 thoughts on “A Very Preliminary Look at the 2020 Bullpen

  1. I like Hill’s passion, but I do not favor resigning him due to his age and injury history. Nor do I want to hold back A younger guy to retain Hill. Garcia is the hard one to understand. An outstanding WHIP of .087 and batting average against of .178 and he has great stuff. But he gave up 15 long balls out of 40 hits! If he would just keep the ball in the park!!

    1. If they don’t use the 2019 ball in 2020, Yimi might keep his spot on the roster. Even if Rob Manfred doesn’t want to come straight with the fans, I hope he’ll whisper in AF’s ear as to whether or not the ball will change back. It might be the difference between keeping Yimi and releasing him. It might make a big difference to Kershaw also.
      With regard to the new “3 batter” rule, I believe the rule reads 3 batters or until the end of the inning. It will be interesting to see how strategy is adjusted for that rule and if that means Kolarek might be back next year if he’s used to face a lefty batter with two outs. Might be too chancy if he can’t get that guy out and there are righties following him in the order. He’s been absolutely horrific against right handed batters for his career.

    2. Garcia has the stuff. He just misses his spots. Báez had the same problem for a couple of years. I agree about Hill but suspect he’s not done yet. There are good arms all over the league and I look for some signings and trades to happen. Friedman is pretty good at turning over rocks.

      1. Time to get rid of some has beens or–never were and start a fresh page. This includes Roberts and Freidman and most of all Hill and Jansen

  2. I think the dodgers got to give the young arms a chance to shine the older players might not be as hungry as the younger players. Start them from the beginning and see what they got might surprise the brass

  3. When you have never won anything Manuel, you are hungry. Does not matter how old you are. You can bet that Jansen, Kersh and Turner are just as psyched to get to and win a World Series as any wide eyed kid. The young arms have stuff, but not experience. Experience beat the Dodgers in the playoffs.

    1. I think Manuel has a point. May, Gonsolin can each go 150 innings next year, let them do it in the Majors. Even Gray might be ready. He will be 22 in December. His ETA is ‘21 but he could be a call up for a few outings as could White and Santana

      And yes, you can say experience beat the Dodgers and technically not be wrong. But we should have won that Game 5. That loss is hung around Roberts neck like a dead chicken. As far as I’m concerned he’s gonna wear that until we win or he’s canned.

      1. I get it, but the kids let them down in the series, and the vets responded. Martin played one game and drove in more runs than Seager, Pollock, Bellinger and Lux combined.

  4. I’m generally a Roberts supporter, but he really screwed the pooch in how he handled kersh, and Kelly in game 5.

  5. Not the first time nor will it be the last. The way this team is constructed and DR’s past performance means we are in for more of the same in 2020, just some new cast members. I can see at least 4 or 5 new faces in the clubhouse come spring. Cole beaten by the Nats……guess there is no reason to pursue him now, he is a loser in a big game.

    1. Maybe his price went down? He sure didn’t look like all that to me. He was missing his spots badly and the Nats made him pay. 5 earned in 7.

      Houston had their chances but they looked like us out there. 3-12 WRISP and 12 Ks. To be honest I spent more time watching the Lakers lose. Clippers bench beat them. And LeBron looks old.

    2. Look at all the money Cole saved us last night by showing us he can lose games too. Second one he’s lost since May. So now that we realize we don’t want him, Kasten will announce that he’s lowering all ticket prices and parking will be free at the stadium Glad to see we’ll be putting that money to good use.

      1. Maybe he comes back from that snoozer with a shutout in Game 4 and then a Bumgarner-esque close in the clincher. Personally I don’t give a rat’s ass cuz I don’t believe he’s coming to LA. I’m thinking he goes home to Orange County.

Leave a Reply