Dodgers’ Bullpen Remains Hot Topic as 2022 NLDS Approaches

While five days certainly feels like a long time for a team to have off, it sure seemed like it went by in the blink of an eye for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Shortly, the final MLB Wild Card round will produce a winner and determine what team the Dodgers will face in the 2022 NLDS beginning Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.

There’s only so much analysis we can do as fans since the destiny of a team is primarily determined by the performance on the field. Management also plays a key role in those performances, from roster selections to drawing up batting orders to vital in-game strategies.

We’ve beaten the Dodgers’ offense to death all year as far as analysis goes. By now, we know who the key players are, what they are capable of, and what they need to do to win. At this stage, it’s just a matter of executing.

The starting rotation is in a similar position, although there’s a bit more strategy involved as to when to replace a pitcher. However, the bullpen is a completely different story, as matchups and timing can make life hard for even the most seasoned managers. To make matters even more unique, the Dodgers are headed into the postseason without a bonafide closer, at least for now.

Many fans understand how critical an effective bullpen is to win a World Championship. While an offense can score runs, it cannot prevent an opposing team from scoring more runs and winning.

Good starting pitching puts you in a spot to win. A solid offense and a reliable defense solidify that positioning. An exceptional bullpen seals the deal by closing the door.

Roles often change in the postseason, as made evident by Julio Urias’s heroics in the 2020 World Series. In that case, it worked. In the 2021 NLDS when the Dodgers used Max Scherzer in relief in Game 5, then tried to run him out as a starter three days later in the NLCS, it backfired as the veteran’s arm fell dead.

2022 could be a little different because the Dodgers seem to have a more talented bullpen, plus they have enough quality starting pitchers to avoid using “openers,” like they did with both Brusdar Graterol and Corey Knebel multiple times in the postseason last year.

One of the craziest things about the 2022 season is that the Dodgers still finished second in the majors — first in the National League — in team bullpen ERA, despite their primary closer having an ERA north of 4.00 for most of the year. This stat speaks volumes of how well the supporting cast has been, thanks primarily to former unknowns like Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia and Yency Almonte.

Who knows, maybe a new relief hero will emerge for the Dodgers in 2022 — someone who we least expect the most.

5 thoughts on “Dodgers’ Bullpen Remains Hot Topic as 2022 NLDS Approaches

  1. As I write this, it appears as though we’re likely to be facing the Padres on Tuesday. Mets trail 4-0 in the 6th and only have 1 hit.

    Both our pitching and our offense are statistically better than SD’s and we absolutely ran all over them this season.
    Doesn’t mean a darn thing going into a short 5 game series, especially since the Pads will be coming in with lots of confidence having beaten a Mets team that threw two future Hall of Famers at them.

    Hopefully, we’ll play up to our capabilities and come out victorious, because of all the teams in the NL, the team I would most hate to lose to is San Diego.

  2. Oddly, and perhaps atypically, I have no concern about any of the Dodger’s team aspects. The sum of their parts is not only the best in baseball, but their sum is better than their parts. No component [starting pitching, bullpen, offense, defense, managing, strategy] has fallen off the cliff this season.
    One reason I was pulling for SD against the Mets is the SD series will be played in warm weather sites. Potential future sites, NY, Philly, and Cleveland, can be pretty dark, cold, and windy places to play in late Oct. When the Dodgers are wearing mittens, coats, and wool toboggans, while jumping up and down in the bullpen and dugout to stay warm, they don’t look very formidable.

    1. Bear, you’ve been a baseball fan for a million years.
      Remember the first baseball rule.
      Don’t ever underestimate your opponent.

      1. Think bear is probably right. The only reason they are in this is because they get to play 60 games (we get 80) against 3 really bad teams in the west division. But you are right. Baseball rule number one is scary. We’ve experienced this first hand for the last 9 years. ( I never count the 60 game pretend season.)

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