Considering Friday night’s 9-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a 59-40 record, which is still good enough for second place in the National League West division. Heading into Saturday’s games, the Dodgers trail the first-place Giants by an even three games with exactly 63 contests remaining.
With a little over a third of the season to go, some fans feel there’s no reason for concern. Others believe the last three consecutive losses have revealed just how vulnerable the Dodgers might be down the stretch run of the year. Personally, I just can’t help but think of the brilliant starting pitching that was wasted against the Giants, especially after all the criticism the starting rotation has taken in recent weeks.
Regardless, the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline is a full week away, and many fans of the Dodgers are curious to see what moves the team makes regarding player personnel. We’ve been preaching about the need for starting pitching forever, but what has transpired over the last handful of days might indicate the club could stand for an upgrade or two in the bullpen department as well.
Aside from the purely hypothetical deals concocted by fans, there haven’t been many trade rumors linked to the Dodgers this summer. There were a few whispers about the team having interest in lefty veteran Cole Hamels, but it’s hard to say exactly how much he’d help the team in any role being that he hasn’t been fully stretched out in well over a year, even if he does come to an agreement with Los Angeles.
Some recent chatter linked to the Dodgers has involved veteran reliever Ian Kennedy. The 36-year-old righty has appeared in 31 games for the Rangers this year, tallying 15 saves, a 2.59 ERA, a 1.085 WHIP and a 3.80 FIP alongside 33 strikeouts and seven walks over 31-1/3 innings of work.
Those aren’t the greatest numbers in the world, but the fact he has blown just one save this season could shed some light on his reliability factor.
Kennedy is in the middle of a one-year deal with Texas worth $2.15 million.
Normally extremely durable as far as health goes, Kennedy spent the minimum 10 days on the injured list with a hamstring issue back in May.
Over the course of his career as a starter, Kennedy used a wide variety of pitches, but has focused primarily on his heater since turning reliever with the Royals back in 2019. However, he’ll still mix in the occasional curve and change. According to Brooks Baseball, his four-seam has sat right at 95 MPH for the whole 2021 season.
Trying to guess exactly how Kennedy would fit into the Los Angeles relief crew would be senseless at this point, but when considering the team has turned to relievers like Edwin Uceta, Jimmie Sherfy, Alex Vesia, Garrett Cleavinger and Mitch White in relatively high leverage situations this season, bringing on someone like Kennedy would help.
Aside from the mop up appearance by Andy Burns back in June — ironically against the Rangers — the Dodgers have used a whopping 22 different pitchers in relief this year.
Along those same lines, it’s tough to guess how Kenley Jansen responds to his latest meltdown and how much skipper Dave Roberts will trust his closer moving forward. Roberts has been especially loyal to Kenley over the years, but we all saw what happened when everything was on the line in last year’s World Series.
By no means am I saying that Kennedy could come on board and be effective in the closer’s role. Nevertheless, based on the current personnel in the Los Angeles bullpen, he’d no doubt be at least somewhat of an upgrade.