Needless to say, the journey through the 2017 season for righty reliever Pedro Baez was a rocky one. Near the halfway point of the campaign, his ERA was almost microscopic, yet when the Dodgers‘ roster was selected for the NLCS against the Cubs, his name was omitted. In early September, he was frequently booed by fans at Dodger Stadium, as skipper Dave Roberts took to the press a number of times to defend him.
Prior to the 2017 campaign, 29-year-old pitcher Kenta Maeda had never made a relief appearance outside of a single game for the Hiroshima Carp during his 2008 rookie season in the Japan Central League. But the manner which he handled himself in the bullpen during the NLDS sweep over the Diamondbacks may have persuaded the management crew of the Dodgers to use the right-hander in similar higher-leverage relief spots moving forward into the playoffs.
From a pitching standpoint, much of the spotlight from the opener against the Pirates on Monday evening was placed on lefty starter Alex Wood‘s performance and potential shoulder dilemma; however, the general perception of the Dodgers‘ bullpen as of late has been causing many fans to be a bit concerned, especially when looking ahead to the postseason.
For many followers of the Dodgers, the general consensus was that the club needed some type of upgrade before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31. In turn, with elite Baltimore closer Zach Britton being virtually untouchable, Los Angeles snagged a pair of southpaws in Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani during the waning moments of the cutoff period. Yet, now that the need for at least one lefty arm has been addressed, those same followers are still wondering if the team’s relief corps has enough firepower to succeed deep into the 2017 postseason.
In Saturday’s column, we took a look around the farm system of the Dodgers and outlined a handful of potential pitchers the club could conceivably utilize for the stretch run of the regular season. But while there’s a good chance the Dodgers do indeed call on one of the youngsters we mentioned, it still doesn’t solve the team’s problem of not having a reliable lefty relief specialist.
When pitcher Brock Stewart was initially recalled to the major league roster this year on June 18, many fans of the Dodgers believed that the 25-year-old righty was merely an extra body in the perpetual carousel of the Los Angeles bullpen, setting the stage for yet another roster move when the next Dodger regular became healthy.
While it’s probably not the most ideal time to begin a discussion about the Dodgers bullpen considering the way the offense has been producing over the last month, the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline is now a mere four weeks away, and it would be very surprising if the club did not try to upgrade with at least one quality arm.