What To Do About the Dodgers Bullpen?

(Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

The Los Angeles Dodgers are undefeated in the Albert Pujols era.

Since signing the future Hall of Famer last Monday, the Dodgers have won seven straight, including sweeping San Francisco last weekend. Los Angeles looked impressive, both in winning a one run game on Friday night, something that had been a bugaboo for them previously, and a blowout win on Sunday, when they scored 11 runs.

But their bullpen issues were highlighted, especially in the blowout game on Sunday, when starter Julio Urías left the game with an 11-2 lead, and the score ended up being 11-5, although the game could’ve been a lot closer than that.

David Price pitched a scoreless seventh, and then Edwin Uceta came on to pitch in the eighth. He allowed three earned runs while getting only one out, and Phil Bickford, making his Dodger debut, was brought in to get the final two outs.

Dennis Santana then worked the ninth inning, allowing a hit and two walks, causing Blake Treinen to have to start warming in the bullpen. With a nine-run lead, the tired, top-tier relievers should have had the day off, and those four should’ve had easy mop-up duty.

Of course, there are a few things at play here. The bullpen, as like the rest of team, has had to deal with its share of injuries. Corey Knebel, Scott Alexander, Brusdar Graterol, and now, Jimmy Nelson are all on the IL. The pitchers who were in Sunday’s game maybe aren’t pitching if even just half of those injured were healthy.

One can’t imagine that there won’t be more injuries this season, as arms are tested after an abnormal 2020 season. So the question is, do the Dodgers just ride it out with who they have, or do they get a jump on the market and work on trading for another reliable arm well before the deadline?

Knebel is on the 60-day IL. Nelson is on the 10-day IL with right forearm inflammation. Alexander was placed on the 10-day IL on May 6th with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. And Graterol was placed on the 10-day IL on April 29th with a forearm issue.

Graterol seems like he will be the first to return from the IL, although it most likely won’t be until at least next weekend. He threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Friday in San Francisco and is expected to throw again in Houston on Tuesday. Depending on the outcome of that, the team will decide if he is ready to return or if he will go out on a rehab assignment first.

Tony Gonsolin, who is on the 60-day IL, threw three scoreless innings in his first rehab start in Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday. He cannot be activated until May 31, and will make one more rehab start before then, trying to stretch himself out to become the fifth starter.

Once he returns, some of the burden should be lifted off the beleaguered bullpen as they have been having to handle a game themselves about once a week, but that realistically is still two weeks away.

A quick look around MLB and who might have a reliever or two on teams that won’t be making the playoffs shows a few possibilities. Ian Kennedy of the Texas Rangers has 11 saves, 23 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.93. Richard Rodriguez has been having a good year for the Pirates. Old friend Yimi Garcia is having a resurgent year in Miami, and as always, Josh Hader is always in the rumor mill of being traded.

These next two weeks will tell the tale of whether the Dodgers decide to trade for help or ride out the injuries. The front office was proactive in getting Pujols and Yoshi Tsutsugo when a lot of fielders went on the IL, so I would not be surprised if they were also proactive with another bullpen piece. Stay tuned.

21 thoughts on “What To Do About the Dodgers Bullpen?

  1. How come my guy isn’t playing? I’m referring to Rangel Ravelo.
    Here’s why we need to immediately promote him to the major league roster:
    1) He’s a former Cardinal farmhand
    2) He’s Cuban
    3) He’s a right handed hitting outfielder
    Two other guys who fit that same description are
    Randy Arozarena – 2020 playoff hero
    Adolis Garcia – AL home run leader in 2021
    Obviously the Cuba/Cardinal combination is a sure winner and we have one sitting there at OKC.
    His line so far this year in 67 plate appearances is .370/.478/.704/.1181

    1. He has a .300 batting average in 11 years in the minors. Yes, 11 years.
      And, in case you were wondering Gordon, he’s only 29 years old.
      He could have the next 11 years with us and still be a year younger than Pujols is right now.

      1. Good thoughts Jeff. Of course my 25 year comments didn’t include Cubans. A 29 year old Cuban is the equivalent of a 23 year old prospect.
        Him and Ruiz are the only 2 hitting on the farm.

  2. Good thoughts Jeff. Of course my 25 year comments didn’t include Cubans. A 29 year old Cuban is the equivalent of a 23 year old prospect.
    Him and Ruiz are the only 2 hitting on the farm.

  3. 1. He is not on the 40 man, so someone would have to be moved in order to bring him up.

  4. Graterol is close to coming back. Gonsolin will be here to help the rotation, but they cannot take many more hits to the pitching staff because there is no help down on the farm that I see.

      1. And most are not worth spit,,,he did that a lot his first season at the helm and it never worked out too well. Most were gone in short time

  5. Further to my cheerleading for Rangel Ravelo yesterday, this, courtesy of Future Dodgers:

    Dodger MiLB wRC+ leaders after three weeks (min 40 PA)

    189 Rangel Ravelo (AAA)
    163 Carlos Rincon (AA)
    156 Ryan Ward (A+)
    153 Michael Busch (AA)
    150 Edwin Mateo (A-)
    146 Joe Vranesh (A+)
    140 Miguel Vargas (A+)
    136 Zach Reks (AAA)
    126 James Outman (A+)
    122 Leonel Valera (A+)

    None of these guys have been among the experiments that AF has tried, but only two (Ravelo and Reks) are even in AAA and only two others (Busch and Rincon) have even gotten to AA yet.

    1. Ravelo has interesting stats. But can he play somewhere other than first base? We don’t need another first baseman.

      1. He’s spent a lot of time in the outfield and also played some third base earlier in his career.

      2. OKC and no. They’re using him mostly at first but he has played some outfield this year also. I really don’t expect to see him with Bellinger and ZMac almost ready to return but, of course, they’re both left handed hitters.

      3. My point exactly. He’s playing first base and not on the 40. We won’t be seeing him anytime soon.

      4. His MiLB numbers are interesting. Career .300 hitter but he’s been there long enough to have 1370 LOB. Sounds like a lot to me. Organizational depth I guess.

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