How Will Dodgers Handle Closer’s Role in 2020?

(Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

As 2020 Summer Camp continues to sputter along, the Dodgers will soon be shifting their focus on composing a preliminary 30-man Opening Day roster, being that the first official contest of the year against the Giants is less than two weeks away.

Over the past few seasons, it seems as if the term “player depth” and the Dodgers have gone hand-in-hand. Seeing the talent on the field (including Chico) in the recent intrasquad games gives testament to this. However, one spot that might need every ounce of the team’s talent might be the closer’s spot in the bullpen, at least for the first part of the short season.

As it stands, there are still players who have not reported to camp. Manager Dave Roberts has not revealed why any of his players have not reported, nor has he revealed why players like Gavin Lux or Tony Gonsolin arrived tardy.

With regards to the relief corps, Kenley Jansen just made it to camp on Sunday, while Pedro Baez continues to remain absent.

Of course, there are many opinions circulating without facts. Some presume that Baez has tested positive for coronavirus, while others believed that Jansen was considering opting out completely because of his heart condition. Whatever the case may be for Baez, it looks like the team will be without their two, best late-inning arms for the first part of the 2020 season. At least Jansen is on track, for now.

Robert Morales of the Los Angeles Daily News published a piece on Sunday regarding Jansen’s return to the field after Jansen and his family were affected by coronavirus.

As far as a replacement for Jansen at the start of the season goes, righty Blake Treinen might be atop the list right now. Trienen appears to be healthy and throwing well in camp so far.

Trienen joined the Dodgers after spending the last two plus seasons with the Oakland Athletics where he went 18-11 with a 2.44 ERA and 67 saves with 201 strikeouts in 160 games. In his first full season with the Athletics in 2018, he went 9-2 with a career-high 38 saves, a career-best 0.78 ERA and 100 strikeouts. The 2018 All-Star became the first pitcher in MLB history with 30 saves, an ERA under 1.00 and 100 strikeouts in the same season. His ERA was the lowest in major league history among pitchers with 80 or more innings since the earned run became an official stat in 1912.

Last season, Trienen went 6-5 with a 4.91 ERA and 59 strikeouts against 37 walks in 57 games for the Athletics. He finished the season with 16 saves in 21 opportunities before he was non-tendered on December 2.

Another player on the potential closer list is the newly acquired AJ Ramos. The Lubbock, Texas native was signed by the Dodgers on July 2, and it didn’t take long for the veteran reliever to report to camp and get to work. The 33-year-old righty hasn’t pitched in a professional game since 2018, but he could nonetheless claim a key role in the Los Angeles bullpen with a strong showing in Summer Camp.

Ramos’ best year came in 2016 for the Marlins when he made 67 appearances and logged 40 saves leading to his first-career All-Star selection.

Other internal options include hard-throwing right-handers Joe Kelly and Brusdar Graterol.

Either way, the back end of the Dodger bullpen is almost guaranteed to be fluid throughout the majority of the season. As Roberts likes to say, he’ll probably base a lot of his decisions on matchups until a trusted arm or two eventually emerge.

While the pandemic might influence the game a lot more than many fans hope, one wonders what might happen at this year’s trade deadline on August 31 should the team have a glaring need to fill.

Stay tuned.


4 thoughts on “How Will Dodgers Handle Closer’s Role in 2020?

  1. I’m feeling better about the bullpen than I have in many years. I’m thinking positive which is a little unusual for me, especially where the bullpen is concerned, but if Kenley, Treinen, Ramos, Baez, Kelly and Graterol all pitch at a level near what they’re capable of, this is going to be a very good bullpen. Then all we’ll need is for one or two of our southpaws to come through and we’ll be unstoppable.

    Yes, I know if all of the above guys pitch below what they’re capable of we could be in trouble, but I don’t want to deal with that possibility right now.

  2. Kelly has been lights out in training so far. He had a problem last year gripping his fastball, and that seems to have been fixed, and he has developed what some say is a killer change up. Baez finally seems to be more confident when he is on the mound, and if Trienen is healthy, I concur that this BP is going to be awesome. Big news over the last couple of days has been the bat of Edwin Rios. He hit his 3rd homer in as many days tonight. Reks, Uceta, and Thomas on the 10 day IL. Kenley had covid-19 which is why he was late to camp. 60 games is a sprint. They are going to have to get it in gear fast.

  3. Dodgers placed a large black tarp in CF to enhance the batters eye. Muncy is a happy camper now,.

  4. If Kelly can stay healthy and continue to pitch like he is now that would be a huge boost to our pen. He could be that 8th inning Morrow. I agree Jeff, this could be our best pen in years and our best team. Can’t wait till they start keeping score

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