Needless to say, there have been a high number of discussions among fans regarding the bullpen of the Dodgers. Seven games into the season, there are probably more questions now about the relief corps than there were at the beginning of Cactus League play in February.
Without question, the biggest move the Dodgers made so far this offseason was signing fireballer Joe Kelly to a three-year deal. Actually, it was the only big move (unless you count the Kershaw contract), as most of the other signings and deals were mostly dribble in creating depth right along the fringe. We’ll talk more about that in a bit.
Old foes can become friends, and that is what seems to be happening between the Dodgers and Joe Kelly. The 30-year-old righty reliever is reportedly in agreement to sign with Los Angeles, pending a physical.
Although it took many years of patience from Dodgers management alongside endless moments of booing from the Los Angeles faithful, Pedro Baez has finally emerged as one of the club’s most trustworthy relievers.
Many followers of the Dodgers hoped the addition of veteran reliever Ryan Madson would bolster the team’s relief corps just a little bit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case—at least not yet. Since returning from the DL because of nerve irritation in his lower back, Madson has made four appearances—one for the Nationals (before he was traded) and three for the Dodgers. In 3-1/3 innings of work, the righty has surrendered five hits (one of which was a long ball) and a walk, resulting in three earned runs. Despite his heater sitting in the 94-95 MPH range, he still hasn’t been able to find any mojo from his former self from a long time ago.
Aside from the whole clutch performance thing we discussed yesterday, the most glaring weakness of the Dodgers has undoubtedly been the bullpen, especially at the back-end. Kenley Jansen may be at a point where he’s deemed undependable. In the meantime, though, who should be the closer, at least until Jansen figures things out?
Sometimes, all it takes is an 11-1 drubbing of another contending club to quickly change a fan’s perspective about the direction of their favorite baseball team. When an offense works according to the way it was specifically designed, it takes a huge amount of pressure off a pitching staff, especially a bullpen which has struggled mightily over the past week. And, with the news that closer Kenley Jansen‘s healing progress has been accelerated, the immediate future of the Dodgers doesn’t seem so dismal after all.
The Dodgers‘ pitching staff has been hit with a lot of injuries this year, but none as serious as the latest. All-Star closer Kenley Jansen is expected to miss about a month due to an irregular heartbeat.
There’s a good chance the current bullpen of the Dodgers will get a bit of a makeover before playoff time, assuming that the team is indeed able to secure a spot in the 2018 postseason. It could be accomplished by utilizing injured players like Josh Fields, Julio Urias or Hyun-Jin Ryu, or management may be able to find a way to orchestrate a waiver trade before the end of August. Furthermore, there will be a few starting pitchers left over come playoff time, conceivably allowing several arms like Ross Stripling, Alex Wood or even Kenta Maeda to throw in relief down the stretch.