At What Point Should Dodgers Seek Bullpen Help?

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

At their best point in early April, the Los Angeles Dodgers appeared to be a well-oiled machine on its way to yet another deep postseason run. At their worst point later in the month, the team seems to need a boost in a multitude of areas.

As May draws near, the Dodgers have dropped seven of their last nine games. They have lost two consecutive series. Perhaps what stands out more, though, is that they have lost three straight games for the first time since August 2019.

All teams have bad patches over the course of a normal length season, and the Dodgers will certainly rebound to some degree. Still, as recent play would indicate, there are some vulnerabilities on the squad. This current stretch of games might be used as a tool to address these types of weaknesses.

Nevertheless, some players like utilityman Matt Beaty seem to think the team will soon regain momentum. “We’re fine,” said Beaty after the team’s 6-5 loss to the Reds on Tuesday. “We know what we have in this clubhouse. We’re really good ballplayers. We’re confident. This is gonna happen over 162 games. We’ve got some really key ballplayers banged up right now.”

It’s hard to pinpoint just one primary area of weakness right now, as both relief pitching and timely hitting stand out at the top of the list. However, when looking at the group of players currently housed on the injured list, there might not be a single difference-maker aside from Zach McKinstry or Cody Bellinger, both of whom could be on the shelf for another several weeks.

As far as relief pitching goes, it’s tough to measure the performance of a unit based on one stat. ERA is very inaccurate for relievers, as the inherited runners who score are credited to the pitcher who left them, in some cases being the actual starter. Regardless, the Los Angeles relief crew is 15th in the majors with a 3.98 ERA as a unit. That same figure is good enough for 8th in the National League.


Some folks like to use WHIP as a measuring stick. Right now, the Dodgers’ relief crew is 28th in the majors with a 1.47 WHIP. That mark is good enough for 14th in the NL, one notch above the NL-worst Rockies.

Los Angeles relievers have given up a whopping 41 walks so far this year, which is sixth most in the National League and seventh most in baseball. The .238 batting average against is the 11th worst among bullpens in the National League.

From a distance, some fans might think the bullpen needs to make a significant upgrade or two to maintain long term success, especially considering the injury to Corey Knebel. With closer Kenley Jansen seemingly unavailable to throw on back-to-back nights, it definitely leaves somewhat of a void in certain situations.

However, the players on the 10-day injured list might soon provide some added depth, as mediocre as they might be. Victor Gonzalez and Mitch White were added to the IL on Tuesday after being vaccinated recently and might be available as soon as Wednesday. Reports surfaced over the last few days that Joe Kelly is not too far away from a potential return. Tony Gonsolin might be a little longer, but he may also be the best prospective upgrade of all the players currently sitting on the IL.

Additionally, there are a bunch of youngsters who are on the 40-man roster who might end up seeing big league time this year, including Gerardo Carrillo, Andre Jackson, Edwin Uceta, and Alex Vesia, who was recalled last week but has not yet thrown. A pair of thirty-something arms in Brandon Morrow and James Pazos are throwing at the alternate site, although neither are members of the current 40-man.

There’s a long way to go until the summer trade deadline, and the Dodgers may have enough resources to get them there, so there’s probably no need to panic just yet.

Consistent offense, however, might be a totally different story.

26 thoughts on “At What Point Should Dodgers Seek Bullpen Help?

  1. The Dodger continually hype the Farm System. They should show its depth. They have pitchers on the 40 man roster Jackson, Uceta, etc bring them up! Let’s see what they have! Graterol is in extended Spring training it seems. Not sure why they brought him up if he can’t throw.
    Did they bring White up to get a shot and get sick? Isn’t that rather dumb? Get everyone at the alternate site shots. Anyone can get one in AZ right now.
    They do not seem to have managed this very well…It’s still a 162 game dress rehearsal though. Nothing except making the playoffs matters. Not sure why they brought Peters back up as Raley and Rios are swinging and missing enough for all of them. Rios is hitting or not hitting at a .095 average and is 0-22! Roberts said he is having good at-bats! WTF!! Yes and as he said Jansen is throwing Great! I understand backing your players but some reality has to be recognized eventually.

  2. Immediately if not sooner. Gonzalez and White to IL< Peters and Cleavenger recalled. Kelly is throwing and close. What inquiring minds want to know is how close is Morrow to being ready and in the words of ole Casey, " Can anyone here play this game?????

  3. Psychologically, Belli might be a huge addition to the lineup but let’s face it, if we had him now the odds are about 50-50 that he’d be producing anything more than Mookie, Corey, Max, etc., all of whom aren’t exactly setting the world on fire. I’ve seen a little sign of life from Beaty the last couple of days and I hope they leave him in the lineup long enough that he can regain his confidence. And Dennis, how could you post a column like this and fail to mention our very best hitter, ZMac? He’s just the kind of guy we need right now. Someone who isn’t trying to bash every pitch out of the park, and is willing to do whatever it takes to win a game. Yes, he could wind up the year at OKC and totally flame out here, but I think his absence is being felt right now, just from an attitude point of view.

    Our starters continue to pitch very well, but I think Andrew is at least contemplating a move or two at this point, and not necessarily by trade. Morrow is probably still a ways away. Can Cleavinger, Vesia or Pazos make a difference? Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it. If it were me and I decided to make a move today, I’d bring up Bobby Miller. I think his ceiling is far higher than any of those other guys. If he’s here for a couple of weeks and shows he isn’t ready yet, he can be sent off to OKC or Tulsa for further seasoning.

    1. As I have been writing. If you have guys on the Farm you might as well see what they’ve got! Miller, Knack, whoever the coaches think. Gray is supposedly their top pitching prospect bring him up. They must have someone that can make contact. Lux came up last night with runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs and struck out! You cannot do that! Get your bat on the Ball! McKinstry would have bunted or done something to get the man in. That is the mindset Roberts has to instill. Roberts is not a manager he is like a cruise director. All nice-nice no conflict. Friedman has been giving him one of the most talented teams in the MLB and he does not know how to manage if there is a problem. Can you imagine Lasorda if you didn’t try to advance the runner. You could hear him screaming expletives from the 3rd base seats! Get guys to play team baseball. Damn, I miss Lasorda. What an incredible character he was one of the sharpest baseball minds and player motivators to ever be around baseball.

      1. No way Tommy and Andrew would have ever been here at the same time. They may have liked each other but never would have been able to work together.

    2. You’re absolutely right about McKinstry. I edited the sentence. Thanks for pointing it out. In all honesty, he could be the key spark plug the club is missing right now.

    3. Miller or Gray could help. We’re only talking a few innings here. I know the Dodgers would prefer to get this done without starting the clock on guys that figure to be 5 year contributors. Vesia would work. Getting Kelly and Gonsolin back would sure help. Bummer about Knebel, but, can’t be all that surprised by it.

      It would appear that asking our starters to complete 7 is too large an ask. Get 6, be happy about it, then go to the pen.

      Offense. After strike 1, try shortening up and go for a line drive in the alleys instead a 400’ 7 iron shot. Stop chasing. Protect with 2 strikes but you just can’t try to hit a ball that is 4” off the plate over the fence. It’s a shame you have to swing at a pitch that far off the plate but it’s obvious that is how it is until MLB employs the ABS system. There are models you can use. Look at video of Tony Gwynn, Pete Rose, Rod Carew and Wade Boggs. Those guys all did it the same way. Shorten up, barrel it, and hit it where it’s pitched. And what exactly does that mean? To me it means never try to pull a pitch on the outside half of the plate. If you’re protecting (outside pitch that could be called a strike) all you’re going to get is a rollover ground ball. Barrel the ball the other way with a controlled swing. Now you have options with inside pitches. You can pull it or you can inside out it. But barrel it. Whatever you do don’t miss it. If you barrel it into a double play, oh well. I’ll take it over a strike out. I hate K’s. And if the pitch is high strike, good luck. 96 mph fastball out of the zone high you just have to let it go and hope the ump gets it right. Unless you’re Mickey Mantle you can’t hit that pitch.

      1. Absolutely agree with you Scoop! Stop trying to pull outside pitches it rarely ends well…But hit the Ball! Guys getting Strikeouts and not advancing runners should be benched.

      2. Totally agree Scoop, but in a world where strike outs are not considered all that bad, you’ll never convince today’s players to use their at bats that way.

        And while we’re at it, and trying to explain to these guys that you can’t pull an outside pitch, we’d better be sure not to let them see Tatis’ second homer off Bauer the other day. Granted, he probably knew where the pitch was going and he’s an uber talent, but…………………………… that kind of result just makes it harder to convince those guys.

  4. Jeff do you think Friedman doesn’t want a strong manager? Isn’t Maddon a strong skipper?

    1. He’d be happy with a strong manager who strategized the same way he does. Tommy was and still would be old school. Andrew doesn’t look at things that way. JMO but I don’t think they could ever have worked together.

  5. Graterol and gonzalez maybe treinen. Thats it. It would be a stretch to think anyone else in the bullpen will be around in 2 years. So what are they doing here? We have no bullpen depth and nobody to look forward to in the immediate future except a few young starters. I mean seriously Nelson, Alexander, cleavinger, and Jansen. With morrow and pazos in the wings. Does anyone else see a problem here? The same problem we had in January.

    1. We can add Ferguson to that group next year. I expect him to be an asset when he returns. I don’t see Treinen back here after his two year contract is up.

      Does this mean that you aren’t in favor of a 10 year extension for Kenley, Gordon?

      1. Don’t think ferguson has a future on this team either. Forgot him. Also forgot Gonsolin. He’ll be back. As for kenley . Roberts says he’s pitching well and his ” mechanics” are good. And he’s a lot smarter than us but don’t think he’ll get 10 years. But he’d be a good mop up guy pitching once a week.

    1. What a team!
      They’re unstoppable!
      This could be the best team of all time!

      So if Kershaw continues to pitch like this, will they be able to get away with resigning him for 2 years @25 mil per year?
      When Bauer will be making 48 mil for one year? I think not.

      1. I’ll tell you what… when Treinen’s slider is spinning the way it’s supposed to spin, it’s literally unhittable. It’s a shame that he can’t spin it that way all the time when he’s out there.

      2. You know I was kind of down on kersh, thought he was done. But after last season and this year so far, he seems to have reinvented himself and he’s getting better after a few down (for him) seasons. He’s actually still fairly young but I don’t see how they could give him 2 more years at 25/30 mil. With all the contracts coming up.

      3. Slow down folks. One game at a time, one year at a time. I’m hoping we will have the opportunity to give him the occasional start off through the summer. PERCOTA projects 167 innings, ZiPS 154 innings. 25-28 starts. We need our top 3 starters in great condition come October. If we can keep his starts to 25 and 150 innings he should last to November. There are a lot of miles on that arm and back.

        Maybe this was a wake up call for the offense. We score like this we can put some distance between us and second place.

  6. Well they won, what a relief, but they still strike out too damn much. I would like to see Muncy actually hit the ball for once. He leads the league in walks, but he has also struck out 21 times. Turner, Taylor, Pollock, and Muncy all over 20 K’s. Rios has 15 in 43 at bats. Seager will soon be over 20. Just frustrates the hell out of me watching these guys flail at pitches they couldn’t hit with a long pole. Lux has been a K machine too with 17 in 53 at bats. Of course some of the K’s have been the result of atrocious K zones by some of the umps and a lot of inconsistency there. Gonna be gone until next Tuesday. I am leaving Friday for Oregon to see my daughter and her family.

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