Will the ‘Bullpen Games’ Ever End?

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The good news for the Dodgers is that David Price is approaching the point where he’s stretched out enough to handle six innings in a single outing. The bad news is Julio Urias was placed on the injured list Saturday, prompting the team to perhaps arrange for a ‘bullpen game’ in his next starting slot.

At face value, the injury doesn’t seem like a serious one for Urias, who has already logged a career-high 139-2/3 innings, surpassing his previous high of 79-2/3 in 2019. Urias suffered a bruise on his calf after being hit by a pitch on Friday, but his time on the shelf may end up serving more as a rest period as the team gears up for the stretch run of the regular season.

Still, with Price officially in the starting rotation, the team lacks a true swing man to serve as an effective opener. Mitch White has shown flashes of decency, but his 3.86 ERA, 1.357 WHIP and 4.36 FIP are far from numbers a team chasing a playoff spot can trust.

Neither Clayton Kershaw nor Danny Duffy is healthy enough to join the team, so that means without Urias, the club is back to three healthy starters in Price, Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer, perhaps requiring two bullpen games over the next week.

Coincidentally, Buehler is the only remaining true starting pitcher on the team who has not required time on the injured list this season. Price was on the shelf with a hamstring problem for almost a month earlier in the year, while Scherzer missed 10 days with a groin issue in June.

Something else to consider is that the team has used a whopping 32 pitchers this season, a new franchise record set last month. That total does not include utility man Andy Burns, who pitched one full inning of mop-up duty in a loss to the Rangers on June 12.

Urias joins an injured list crowded with a slew of relief pitchers. Scott Alexander, Garrett Cleavinger, Tony Gonsolin, Victor Gonzalez, Joe Kelly and Darien Nunez are already sitting on the 10-day injured list, while it was recently announced both James Sherfy and Jimmy Nelson would miss the remainder of the year.

However, all these injuries have opened doors for previous unknowns like Phil Bickford, Justin Bruihl, Conner Greene, Darien Nunez and Alex Vesia to contribute in some shape or form.

Having to employ a bullpen strategy style once every five starts is manageable, but when it’s needed twice a week, the relief crew often becomes overused and tired, something the Dodgers can ill afford with less than 50 games left in the season.

8 thoughts on “Will the ‘Bullpen Games’ Ever End?

  1. Not until at least September I would think. Tsutsugo released and then he signs with the Pirates and is on their 40 man roster. He might be in LA this week.

    1. Yoshi was really hitting pretty well at OKC. Seemed to have finally found his batting eye. I can’t figure out any logical reason for OKC to cut him unless he asked to be released in the hopes of hooking on somewhere else. If he’s here this week, I sure hope we don’t regret not waiting a little longer to release him.

  2. Not only are we facing the prospect of two bullpen games this week, but I believe they will be in consecutive games. Not the best situation, even if it’s against the Pirates.

    Assuming that White probably starts on Tuesday, that would leave a need for someone on Wednesday. If they don’t want to add Pepiot to the 40 man, and I’m guessing they don’t at this point, that could leave Uceta who might be able to go 3 or 4 innings or Andre Jackson who is already on the 40 man and has been starting at OKC. One last possibility would be 37 year old journeyman Austin Bibens-Dirkx who just threw 7 innings of shutout ball for OKC the other day. He isn’t on the 40 man but they could pull the same stunt they did with Yefry Ramirez and Quackenbush. They added both of those guys to the major league roster for one appearance and then dfa’d them. They both passed through waivers and are back at OKC.

      1. Two last names isn’t all that bad, but you really have to look out for the guys who have a name with a k followed by an x.

  3. Vesia has looked very good recently hopefully he has figured out he can throw strikes and trust his stuff. Hershiser says that is a tough mental lesson that some have difficulty with. Trying to be too clever and miss bats is why many do not throw strikes and get deep into counts and get hit hard. White looked better this last outing even though he gave up a couple of runs in 4 innings.

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