There are only two games left in the 2022 MLB regular season. Back in spring, no one knew if we would even get to this point due to the lockout. But, here we are about to commence the postseason, where stress levels rise with every pitch and every swing.
The Dodgers have 110 wins in what has been an incredible season to date.
But, like every playoff team, there are questions about how they’ll handle their postseason roles. One of the biggest questions is the closer. Craig Kimbrel has been given every opportunity to succeed in the role but sadly hasn’t. However, the Dodgers do have more than capable arms to trot out.
Picture this scenario, World Series Game 7 up one run in the ninth — who do you want closing? Certainly not Kimbrel. Maybe a decade ago, you would. It may very well depend on who’s available or matchups.
Let’s take a quick look at the options:
The Dodgers do this every year. They find a player and maximize his potential. Just look at Yency Almonte. The former Colorado Rockie has never pitched in the postseason. This season he has posted a 1.05 ERA in 34 ⅓ innings. He only recorded one save, but who knows what Roberts will think come playoff time, although Almonte may be suited for earlier innings.
Caleb Ferguson, who returned after a long layoff due to injury, has posted similar numbers with a 1.87 ERA in 33 ⅔ innings. He hasn’t saved any games and most likely won’t in the postseason, but he still is a great arm to have.
Brusdar Graterol emphasizes the phrase fight fire with fire. He may be an option for high-leverage situations and closing scenarios due to his velocity. However, he has been a bit wild at times. Graterol will enter his third postseason with the Dodgers, so at least he’s been there before. Potentially we could see Graterol closing games. He’s posted a 3.26 ERA in 49 ⅔ innings and recorded 43 strikeouts.
Since the Dodgers acquired Chris Martin at the trade deadline, he’s been nothing but excellent for them. Martin has been on the other end in the postseason facing the Dodgers with the Braves. A seasoned veteran pitcher who’s won a World Series and has playoff experience. Martin with the Dodgers has posted a 1.52 ERA in 23 ⅔ innings. I could see him closing some games, but he’ll be an arm the Dodgers go to in October.
Every time there’s a big strikeout of a traffic jam on the bases, it seems it was courtesy of Alex Vesia. The left-hander has the firepower to get out of big messes, and he does have one save in three opportunities this year. Vesia has struck out 79 hitters in just 54 ⅓ innings of work. Depending on matchups, he could close a game or two.
Last but not least, Evan Phillips, who’s just been lights out for the Dodgers this year. A whip of 0.76 and ERA of 1.14. He’s also struck out 77 batters in 63 innings. Phillips was claimed off waivers from the Rays last year, yet Andrew Friedman does it again.
Phillips has allowed just one run in his previous 24 appearances. He has two saves in four opportunities, but the Dodgers may need him to pitch earlier in tight ball games. But Phillips could be the exclusive closer for the postseason.
Overall, the bullpen for the Dodgers is capable of shutting down games. Although it won’t be stress-free for fans, it never is. I also didn’t mention Blake Treinen, as his status is up in the air. I do not see Tommy Kahnle or David Price possibly closing games, but who knows, they could get an opportunity in an extra innings game.
The postseason can’t get here soon enough.