While there was an overwhelming amount of emphasis put on the bullpen of the Los Angeles Dodgers for much of the winter, there has not been much chatter about the relief crew so far during 2021 Cactus League play.
One of the most intriguing things to watch during spring training is the progression of some players compared to others. Some of them seem to be locked into every facet of their games, while others appear to be slightly off with their respective timing, mechanics, or overall sync.
However, this is the intended purpose of the Cactus League schedule. Besides providing an auditioning stage of sorts for spots on the big-league roster, it’s primary purpose is to prepare the players for the regular season, providing them with a chance to work out the kinks and zero-in their focus.
Several early reports coming out of camp surround potentially two of the Dodgers’ most important relievers in 2021.
According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, both Kenley Jansen and Brusdar Graterol are experiencing slight setbacks.
The issue with Jansen is apparently mechanics related.
On Monday, Kenley looked very sharp against the Rockies in his spring debut. He was perfect in one full inning of work, striking out two Colorado batters on just nine pitches. But things have gotten a bit dicey since.
In a live batting practice session Thursday, Jansen hit teammate Zach Reks on the elbow with a cutter, emphasizing what has been a rocky few days for the veteran with regards to command. On Friday, he did some “dry throwing” off the mound in hopes of correcting some of the control issues.
Skipper Dave Roberts, who has already named Jansen as the team’s primary closer to start the season, believes the issue is just minor in nature.
“I think he was just a little bit out of sync,” Roberts said. “Obviously with Kenley, a big-bodied guy, it kind of happens.”
Roberts hinted that Jansen could appear in a game again as early as Sunday or Monday.
Graterol has yet to throw in a Cactus League contest this spring.
As stated by Juan Toribio of mlb.com, “Graterol dealt with things over the offseason that limited him more than he and the team would’ve liked. The current plan is to get Graterol to throw off the mound in the next couple of days. It’s still unclear when he’ll appear in a game.”
Despite the delays, Roberts remains optimistic for his 265-lb. right hander.
“He’s coming along really well,” Roberts said of Graterol. “There were some things this winter that didn’t allow for him to get off the mound and throw as consistently as he would’ve liked coming into camp. We just want to make sure he stays healthy, so the ramp-up has been a little different for him.”
According to Toribio, Roberts explained that what limited Graterol over the offseason wasn’t surgery or anything of that sort. Roberts said that “it’s just more kind of stuff of what’s going on in our world.”
In the shortened 2020 regular season, Jansen was tied for first with Blake Treinen for most relief appearances on the team with 27.
Graterol finished third with 23 appearances out of the bullpen, just two behind righty Dylan Floro, who was traded to the Marlins in February.