Although the Dodgers lead the entire MLB in team ERA, the club may be seeing some improvements over the next few weeks that could fine tune the rotation and bullpen.
As a matter of fact, the Los Angeles 2.86 team ERA is the only mark under 3.00 in the league. Their combined 2.71 ERA for starting pitchers is light years ahead of Houston’s second -place mark of 3.14, and their 3.08 team bullpen ERA is good enough for third in the majors.
Take Craig Kimbrel’s 21 earned runs and 4.46 ERA out of the picture, and Los Angeles might be leading in the relief category, too.
The mention of Kimbrel brings us to the team’s first potential late-season transformation.
While we’ve been discussing the possibility of this happening for a few weeks, Roberts explained that it was more of a usage thing in his eyes, as Kimbrel had pitched in three of the team’s last five games before the Marlins series.
“I trust Phillips to finish a ballgame,” said Roberts. “So it kind of was the best-case scenario, in the sense of giving Craig a day and getting him back in there tomorrow.”
While this move by no means signifies anything definitive, it at least tells us the skipper is flexible and that the possibility of a permanent change is there.
Another upgrade is the activation of young righty Dustin May, who takes center stage on Saturday after undergoing UCL surgery at the beginning of last season. Roberts forewarned fans that May isn’t a savior to the rotation, but he still offers a significant upgrade over other youngsters like Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove or Andre Jackson.
In addition, Clayton Kershaw appears to be on track for a mid-September return, providing an additional rotation boost.
Our friend J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reported on Friday that Kershaw threw a bullpen prior to the Miami opener and that his back is asymptomatic.
As far as the bullpen goes, it looks like Brusdar Graterol might be activated as soon as Saturday or Sunday to provide possible late-inning reinforcement. Also, Blake Treinen continues to progress and is eyeing a return to the team right around when rosters expand at the beginning of September.
Both Treinen and Graterol’s returns could prove to be significant if Kimbrel continues to throw inconsistently.