Let’s Start Building a Bullpen


Without a doubt, December is much too soon to start thinking about building a big league bullpen, especially when considering the prospective long and middle relief spots of the 2020 crew. However, since this has been the slowest winter in quite a while for the Dodgers news-wise, we thought this would be as good a time as any to take a very preliminary look as to what the Los Angeles relief crew might look like for the upcoming season.

With the debut of the 26-man roster, there could be a few different looks the Dodgers employ during the 2020 campaign. Over the past several seasons, the team elected to mostly utilize an eight-man relief corps, although there were several occasions when we saw as many as nine or ten arms in the bullpen. My best guess is that there will be eight arms in the relief crew for most of the season, preventing the team from being handcuffed with a shortage of position players late in long, extra-inning affairs like we saw last year.

Without examining a ton of numbers, it’s quite easy to insert the impact arms of the 2020 bullpen straightaway, assuming everyone stays healthy through Opening Day. As much as some fans disagree, both front-office boss Andrew Friedman and skipper Dave Roberts have said that the closer role is Kenley Jansen‘s to lose, so there’s one spot filled right off the top.

As far as the key setup arms go, we’re looking at a trio of candidates—newly acquired Blake Treinen, Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez. Depending on how thing go during 2020 Cactus League play, Friedman/Roberts might have a good idea of his main guy right out of the gates. Still, it would not be surprising if the chief setup roles change often throughout the regular season. Regardless, with the inclusion of Treinen, Kelly and Baez, we have half of our eight slots filled.

There’s a small chance that swing man Ross Stripling earns his way into the starting rotation, but my guess is that he’ll be available to throw in relief, especially if the team decides to add another quality starting arm before the beginning of spring training. Even if the club stands pat personnel-wise, the final rotation spot could conceivably be decided in a Cactus League battle between right-handers Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May.

Already, there has been plenty of chatter about Adam Kolarek potentially not earning a spot because of the elimination of a bonafide LOOGY. Over the course of his career, lefty hitters have slashed just .198/.243/.281 against him while righty batters have hit a whopping .300/.368/.480. Those numbers certainly say a lot, but I think the Dodgers will give Kolarek every chance to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. Even with the new minimum-batter rule for relievers, there should still be opportunities for Roberts to use Kolarek to his maximum potential.

As far as the last three openings go, there are a whole slew of arms that could contend for roster spots. Scott Alexander is definitely coming back, so he’ll be in the run to make the team. Casey Sadler and Dylan Floro, who both showed flashed of brilliance in between spells of absolute ineffectiveness, will also be in the running for the remaining few spots.

Other contending pitchers who have big league experience include Caleb Ferguson, Dennis Santana and Josh Sborz. Further down the totem pole are relievers like Joe Broussard, Marshall Kasowski, Jordan Sheffield, Logan Salow and Shea Spitzbarth, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see either Victor Gonzalez or Mitchell White throw in relief at the big league level since both players have recently been added to the club’s 40-man roster.

Furthermore, there’s still a really good chance Friedman adds an MLB-ready arm or two to the relief mix for 2020. After all, there are still more than 45 days remaining before pitchers and catchers start filing into the clubhouse at Camelback Ranch.

Nevertheless, here are my Opening Day projections (keep in mind, this is how I think the bullpen will look, not how I want it to look):

  • Kenley Jansen
  • Pedro Baez
  • Blake Treinen
  • Joe Kelly
  • Adam Kolarek
  • Ross Stripling
  • Scott Alexander
  • Casey Sadler

My guess is that Gonsolin and May battle for the final rotation spot, and whoever loses out stays fresh and ready to go at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Sadler was included over Floro because Floro has one option remaining on his contract while Sadler has none. In this scenario, Ferguson could conceivably one of the first arms recalled.

Whatever the result ends up being, fans can expect the bullpen carousel to be spinning quite rapidly by mid-season. Even with the changes to the injury list rules, Friedman will be certain to utilize the IL to its max.

As the winter progresses and the club acquires new players, stay tuned for even more projections.


35 thoughts on “Let’s Start Building a Bullpen

  1. Chargois has been released so he can sign in Japan. I wish him luck over there, always liked him. Hopefully he’ll do well enough that he’ll earn another crack at an MLB roster.
    Somehow I don’t see Gonsolin starting the year at OKC. If he isn’t in the rotation I think they’ll see what he can do out of the bullpen which may be where his future lies anyway. May is a different story. If he has a poor spring I could definitely see him starting the year in AAA.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I would love to see them add Hader to that group. Then the youngish starters would have less pressure on them.


  2. That’s the problem with making a trade right now. The Brewers still think that they can compete-so do the Indians and Red Sox. Those three as well as the Cubs want to give it one more shot. But come July will probably be selling.


  3. “I think that you’ve got to shuffle the deck sometimes. Although we’ve had a lot of consistency, I think that for us to keep things fresh is a good thing. I think that you don’t ever want to get stagnant and complacent.” Dave Roberts

    Well, too late for me. I woke up this morning and spilled stagnant on my PJs. Didn’t even care because I’m complacent. 100 wins? So what. Been there, done that. West title? Who cares? Happens every year. I’m just sitting in la la waiting for my ya ya, uh huh, uh huh. (That will resonate with some older dudes in here and you won’t be able to get it out of you head, uh huh, uh huh.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I inexplicably woke up with it. I haven’t heard that song in 50 years and there it was. The mind is an ocean of currents and you just never know where it might take you. And make no mistake, we are often just along for a ride on the tide … uh huh uh huh


      1. Chargois was a little under appreciated while he was here, so it’s nice that he’s getting some good copy on the way out Gary. 🙂


      1. Just for the record, I’ll miss him. I really think he had a lot of untapped potential. Problem is he never got his command to the point where he could take advantage of it.
        Chaggy meet Yimi. Yimi meet Chaggy.


  4. You just had to do it didn’t you Scoop? One of the worst tunes ever written, along with “Their Coming to take Me Away Ha ha”. I am done for the day with that roaming around in my head. Almost as bad as getting “It’s a Small World After All” when you get near that ride at Disneyland. As for a relief corps, I like the names Dennis threw out there. Makes sense to me. But what they do in spring will dictate some of that. A great spring and boom, you are right back in contention. Watched the football playoffs last night. LSU looks nigh unbeatable. That Burrow kid has some mad skills. 7 TD passes..amazing. The OSU-Clemson game was more exciting. Went right down to the end with Clemson picking off a pass in the end zone with 36 seconds left to secure the win. Roberts said he expects a lot of turnover on the roster before spring. Well, that can mean a lot of things. But some have taken it to mean that the Dodgers are still probing the trade market. We will see. New Years is Wednesday, so you figure the FO will be back at work on the 6th of January with a little over a month until pitchers and catchers report. One scribe suggested the Dodgers need to trade Barnes and re-sign Martin. Don’t see that happening.


    1. This just in: Doc says he was misquoted. Actually said “there will be a lot of turnovers” in response to the question “what is your wife baking for the holidays?”.
      I could be totally wrong on this but I doubt the FO will wait until the 6th to get back to work. If Chaim Bloom calls AF on the 2nd and says “I’ll give you Betts and Price for Kike and Barnes” I guarantee you he won’t get a recording that says “I’m out of the office until the 6th and will return your call at that time”. Say what you will about MLB front offices, if they get a call about a trade as the ball is descending in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, they’ll answer it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. At this point in time the whereabouts of AF has been undefined. No one knows his present location nor whether he is in cell phone range. I can believe Doc was misquoted when the 10th inning started he though Baez was out there not Kelly. The biggest laugh I got from Doc was his exclamation of surprise that the call for his dismissal was so loud from the fans. He definitely lives in a fantasy world.


  5. I love getting a new media guide every year because there is just so much info on history and such. This year, I have not found any for sale, so I had to download one onto my computer. Has the cover photo and every thing. So a question for Y’all. Dodgers have had 18 ROY winners, the most of any team. How many of those guys played their entire careers as Dodgers?


    1. Did Newk and Gilliam play their entire careers with the Dodgers? Those come to mind. Also, Seager and Belli but they haven’t finished their careers yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Close…..Gilliam and Jackie. No one else. Of course Belli and Seager still pups and a long way from retirement. Newk was traded at the deadline in 58 in what turned out to be a 4 for 1 deal. Dodgers got Bilko, Klippstein, Art Fowler and Charles Rabe from the Reds, who at the time were still called the Redlegs. Klippstein made some contributions to the 59 team, but he was the only one to really make an impact. Bilko was a huge star and power threat in the PCL. But never did much in the majors. He also spent some time with the Angels. All the other ROY’s were traded at some point. Sizemore was dealt the year after he won the award along with catcher Bob Stinson for Dick Allen from the Cardinals. Allen lasted one season in LA….Alston hated him, and was traded to the Sox for Tommy John. Sizemore was traded back to the Dodgers in 76 for Willie Crawford. Allen was part of the trade with the Phillies that ended up with Curt Flood challenging the reserve clause and eventually led to free agency.


  6. Dodgers last trade with each franchise is in there too. Have not traded with the Giants since 2007 when they got Mark Sweeney for Travis Denker. That was one of those August trades you won’t see anymore. Last trade with the Yankees was also in 07. But the longest time between deals has been with Detroit. They sent Cody Ross to the Tigers for Steve Colyer on the 1st of April, 2004.


  7. I’m surprised it’s only been 15 years for the longest.
    Well, we’re about to trade with the Bosox (for Betts), the Indians (for Lindor) and the Rox (for Arenando) so those will all be set back to 0 years. Stay strong Shlemmings!
    (By the way Bear, I’m now half way through my concession speech. It’s really starting to flow.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. He can opt out then come to LA. Rockies fans won’t mind that because he will be past his prime and the team will not have won anything with him there so they will recognize it’s time to move on.

        Here’s my bold prediction: The Dodgers will trade for somebody. You know I’m right about this.

        Here’s another good one: Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight). Lonnie Donegon. I had the 45 and drove my parents nuts playing that thing over and over. That and the wing-a-wep from The Lion Sleeps Tonight pretty much did my folks in.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Two more oldies but goodies. You realize Scoop that no one under the age of 103 who comes here will have heard of any of these.
        If Arenado would cooperate and announce that he wants out of town and the Dodgers offered the best package, they might still consider sending him here. All a matter of him saying he doesn’t want to be there and getting a good return.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Wim o weh…..that is how it went. That aside, Donegon’s version was not nearly as good as Ray Stevens. I drove people nuts listening to Alley Oop and Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley, who was also a cowboy actor. Loved listening to Dr. Demento when he was riding high. Big fan of Wolfman Jack too.


      4. My dad heard “a wing a wep”. He let me know. He told me “if I hear one more “a wing a wep” I’m gonna melt that damn record down and fill a pot hole with it!”


  8. The Braves have kicked around the idea of an Arenado deal, but seem to be waiting to see what Donaldson is going to do. No doubt they will trade for someone Scoop. Just who, no one knows. There has been no chatter at all about Lindor for more than a week, and even less about Betts-Price or Sale. Alex Wood is still out there……Talk now says Puig might consider playing in Japan. he could get a much better deal there right now, and a monster season in the Orient would set him up nicely next year.


  9. Miami beats the Pats! Will wonders never cease. Rams pasting the Cardinals, but yet who doesn’t. Going to be weird seeing the Raiders in Las Vegas next year, but the Rams and Chargers move into their new palace in Inglewatts.


  10. Here is another one that will rack the brain. Old song called Meanwhile Back in the Jungle. And the old David Seville tune, The Witch Doctor, which led to, you guessed it The Chipmunks.


      1. You got lucky?

        Hey, you could have been shipped to SE Asia rather than Germany. Instead of picking up a guitar case you could have picked up a case of DaNang STD, some Saigonnorhea or plasmodium falciparum (cerebral malaria). I got the latter. Know a couple who got the former.

        Wow…… talking about gonorrhea now…… how many days to pitchers catchers?


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