A Look at the Dodger Bullpen and the Closer Role

The Los Angeles Dodgers are one week away from opening up the 2022 season in Denver against the Colorado Rockies. Before camp breaks, however, there are still a few unanswered questions.

The number of players still in camp as of Thursday afternoon was 41. The season will open with a 28-man roster so teams will have a little help in the pitching department because of the truncated spring training schedule.

MLB announced on Thursday that the 28-man roster will run through May 1, and there is no pitcher limit during that time. On May 2, that will change to a 26-man roster and no more than 13 pitchers on the squad. There will also only be a 10-day IL through May 1, and back to the 15-day IL after that. Also pitchers and two-way players can be optioned for 10 days though May 1, and then it will be 15 days May 2 and forward.

Manager Dave Roberts has said that the Dodgers probably will break camp with 16 pitchers, and 12 position players. Now having the designated hitter and a few days off in April will initially alleviate the need for more bench players.

Another things Roberts has said regarding the team is the the bullpen, at least initially, will be closer by committee. With the loss of Kenley Jansen, Doc and the pitching coaching staff have decided to see how the bullpen plays out and use whatever arm they feel fits the current situation the best at the time.

The initial thought is that Blake Treinen will be the one used in the most high leverage situations, and the rest of the bullpen will work itself out from there.

For his part, Treinen likes this thought process. “I kind of enjoy (my current role) more than closing time be honest with you”, he told the L.A. Times earlier this week. “I enjoy both…But you don’t always face the biggest situations in the ninth inning”.

That seemingly leaves either Brusdar Graterol or Daniel Hudson to become the closer de facto. Graterol has looked fantastic so far this spring, having pitched 3.2 innings, allowing no earned runs with a 0.27 WHIP. His velocity has been there from the beginning of camp and he is just whipping it past batters. Hudson has only pitched 2.0 innings so far in spring, but has only allowed on hit and has struck out two.

Victor Gonzalez, Alex Vesia, and Justin Bruihl all will be options out of the ‘pen in short relief roles. As of now, Tyler Anderson is slotted to be the long relief man, most likely piggy-backing a starter or two that is not quite built up yet.

As for other options, David Price pitched on Wednesday and looked strong. It was his first outing of spring training, where he pitched 1.0 innings and struck out two. Afterwards, Price told SNLA’s Kirsten Watson that there always is a two week period in every spring that it’s just a grind, going back all the way to 2011. But he is through that now, and he’s feeling good and healthy and ready to pitch wherever the Dodgers ask him.

Three pitchers that will not start the season coming out of the bullpen are Caleb Ferguson, Tommy Kahnle and Phil Bickford.

Dave Roberts said that with Ferguson, they are going to slow-play him as he makes his return from Tommy John surgery. They are looking more at having the bulk of his innings be towards the end of the season as opposed to the beginning, and would like him to be full strength when he returns to the pitching staff.

Kahnle is also returning from Tommy John surgery, and is looking at using the month of April as his spring training. He will be pitching in both Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Triple-A Oklahoma City as he also builds his arm back up.

Phil Bickford has yet to pitch in a spring training game, as he has been dealing with some arm soreness and a late ramp up coming into spring training. He feels healthy now, but will not be included on the opening day roster.

19 thoughts on “A Look at the Dodger Bullpen and the Closer Role

  1. Price looked good last night. Actually all the Dodgers pitchers looked good. Almonte, who was with the Rockies last year struck out the side with some nasty stuff. Dodgers scored 8 runs on 3 hits and some really shoddy fielding by Cleveland…I still cannot get used to calling them the Guardians. Phillips made 2 bad pitches and should have given up two homers. But since they do not use replay in spring, the second was ruled a long single. Ghost runner at second in extra’s is back. I understand why they are doing it with the truncated spring and all. But I really dislike the rule.

  2. I agree about the ghost runner. Don’t like it.
    From the little I’ve observed Anderson seems more deserving for the rotation than Heaney but it’s early.

  3. As good as they were last night, staff getting rocked by Rangers today. Bombs off of Gonzalez and two off of Trienen. Bats are colder than the heart of a frozen mastodon.

  4. I can see a few guys qualified for the role. I think it might end up being Graterol, but it could be a shared assignment.

    Don’t mind the designated runner rule. I think it adds some immediate excitement. Ban the extreme shifts and get ABS going and I’m good.

  5. I kinda like the ghost runner, I know it’s a little softballish, but I don’t think there are many fans anymore that want to watch a 15 inning game, at least fans under the age of forty. I know it’s totally anti tradition, but I’m ready for the DH in the NL, and a ghost runner in extra innings.

    1. Why have the last batter in previous inning as ghost runner let’s go all Bill Veekish and select random fans that wore their team jersey that day or use the team mascot? Or maybe a clown?
      I mean the spring training was short so we don’t want a player pulling a hammy trying to score from second.

      1. The last out makes sense on a few levels, but it is a designated assignment so why not anybody that is not in the starting lineup?

        “Honestly, I think that players, the great ones, have something in them where what’s real is not always real. … If you’re looking at Cody’s last couple years, the ups and downs, I think that the honest approach and saying what’s right, what works, what doesn’t work, what’s wrong, and how can we come together to remedy and fix it and be more consistent? I think that’s something that, that approach has really landed.” Dave Roberts


        There’s a picture accompanying this Athletic piece on Bellinger’s problem. If you haven’t seen it try to find it as it tells a story. He’s finished his swing, the ball of course is likely in the catcher’s glove, his back knee is nearly grounded, his front foot is rolled onto his ankle, he’s looking somewhere down the right field line and his follow through has taken his bat back over the plate. It just screams over swing. I don’t know what else to say about this other than keep your head still, shorten up, try to barrel a strike back through the middle and go from there. Clearly pitchers have a book on him. Change the text or you will be figuring it out at AAA.

  6. Sorry Andy, you’ll have to re-write this post. We just traded AJ Pollock for Kimbrel. I guess we know who the new closer is.

    1. I know just said that on Twitter I was one day too early lol. Always works that way. I will miss AJ

      1. Quite a daring move considering we have no idea if Belli will be of any use this year.
        CT3, Lux, Pillar and Lamb are the guys most affected by this move I guess.

      2. I think Belli will be fine eventually. CT3 becomes the primary LF. Think this is a bet on Lux. Rios might be with the team too

      3. Well, the obvious move is for CT3 to play (almost) every day in LF. Pillar becomes the 4th OF. No need for CT3 to play 2B or SS or 3B with Lux, Alberto and Muncy available and maybe Lamb.

      4. Maybe they would prefer to make Lux an outfielder and CT the most-of-the-time second baseman. I guess we’ll have to wait. Of course, there could be another trade coming. The Padres have been hot on the trail of Brian Reynolds of the Pirates (I’m a big fan). Maybe Andrew will swoop in and grab him, like he did with Scherzer-Trea.

      5. CT3 is an accomplished defender in the OF and Lux is as good or better in the IF at 2B-SS

    2. So, we give up one of our most productive hitters for a guy making about the same as an all-time great Dodger in Kenley Jansen. Yes, I understand that the salary of Pollock mostly offsets Kimbrel’s. And yes, I understand, we still have a loaded offense, but still when AJ is in the zone, he is as good as anyone on the team. Wondering if we are including another reliever as well?

  7. The Sox have relievers (and very good ones) coming out of their ears. They’ll be just fine without Kimbrel in their bullpen. On the other hand, AJ will be a real help to them.

    When Kenley signed with the Braves there was talk that Andrew had asked him to wait for the clearing of some salary before he re-signed. He just felt he couldn’t wait any longer. Maybe Andrew had planned to move AJ for a little while now. Of course, if he was doing it to sign Kenley, he wouldn’t have traded for Kimbrel.

      1. I’m sorry to see him go. Still hits for average, power and still runs well. No longer a GG in OF but certainly not bad.

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