Suddenly, the Outlook of the Dodgers Bullpen Doesn’t Seem So Gloomy

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.

According to Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times, Jansen and skipper Dave Roberts hope the All-Star reliever will be cleared to pitch as soon as Monday.

“I’m miserable right now,” Jansen said on Friday afternoon. “I need to be out there. That’s why my fingers are crossed for Monday. We’ll see. If that happens, that would be great, so I can come back and help us get back in the race, and try to go where we want to go.”

Jansen had been placed on the 10-day disabled list on August 10 with an irregular heartbeat and has been prescribed blood thinners in the meantime to help alleviate the symptoms. He has been throwing light bullpens, though, with the most recent coming before the opener on Friday night in Seattle.

At one point this week, it appeared as if a poorly constructed bullpen would conceivably push the Dodgers out of the divisional race in the NL West. The front office crew of the Dodgers faced heavy scrutiny as it ignored making any significant upgrades prior to the non-waiver trade deadline last month.

Since Jansen’s illness, the Los Angeles relief crew blew leads in seven consecutive games heading into the Mariners series. The Dodgers lost five of those contests and surrendered control of the division to Arizona. During that time, the team was relegated to depend on the services of such unknowns like Zac Rosscup, JT Chargois, Dylan Floro and Erik Goeddel to provide quality relief. Ironically, it was the highly-criticized Pedro Baez who stepped up on Wednesday evening with an impressive appearance to seemingly bring the crew out of its funk.

What’s more, the rehab of hard-throwing righty Josh Fields was escalated to the Triple-A level on Friday night, when he threw a perfect seventh inning for the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Fields is expected to make at least one more appearance for OKC, then will be evaluated in terms of his readiness for the bigs.

With the prospective return of Jansen, coupled with a late-inning presence of Fields, Scott Alexander and Kenta Maeda—so long as he remains in the bullpen—the landscape of the Los Angeles relief corps would not seem so gloomy. Perhaps by not having the pressure of the ninth inning on their shoulders, Alexander and Maeda will slide back to their normal mindsets, allowing them to successfully setup Jansen.

Throw All-Star righty Ross Stripling back into the bullpen mix and the future looks even brighter. Stripling was placed on the 10-day DL on Wednesday with back problems, but the injury does not appear as serious as it sounds.

“I don’t have any bulging discs or anything like that, it’s basically managing symptoms,” Stripling explained this week. “Give it a couple of days, get on some good meds and try to get the inflammation out of there. I’m going to give it through the weekend, since they are going to Seattle, and I’ll stay here.”

The activation of veteran right-hander Daniel Hudson on Friday provides an additional boost to the relief crew.

Of course, one of the biggest enemies of the Dodgers right now is a gritty Arizona Diamondbacks crew, which still leads the division by a full two games. In the same breath, 39 contests still remain on the regular season schedule—plenty of time for Los Angeles to establish momentum and make a playoff push. Furthermore, the Dodgers will host the D-Backs in what’s shaping up to be a huge four-game series beginning on August 30.

 

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Dodgers Worst Enemy: An Anemic Offense or a Second-Rate Bullpen?

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(Los Angeles Times photo)

Believe it or not, some people saw a bit of logic when the Dodgers ignored their suspect bullpen while trying to upgrade their offense at the non-waiver trade deadline last month. After all, there were some internal moving pieces which would improve the relief corps, and the addition of two of the best available offensive weapons would seemingly allow the squad to slug its way into the postseason.

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There’s Still No Reason for Dodgers to Panic, but It’s Getting Close

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To say this season has been frustrating is an understatement. Every time the Dodgers seem to get things going, some other piece of bad news hits the fan. It has been said that during any series at Coors Field, the best you can hope for is to get in, get out and hopefully everyone escape healthy. It didn’t quite happen that way this time.

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Dodgers Roster: More Thoughts on an Otherwise Shoddy Bullpen

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(Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

It’s all that everyone’s been talking about—with good reason. What many followers of the Dodgers have considered to be the team’s biggest weakness all year long is finally proving to be true. It took an illness from the team’s All-Star closer to prove, but what folks are now learning is that Kenley Jansen was the single cog which was seemingly holding the entire Los Angeles relief corps together.

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Dodgers Offense Will Need to Carry Depleted Pitching Staff

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The Dodgers are facing a tough road to make it back to the World Series. With the loss of Kenley Jansen, a starting rotation not always looking as sharp as they could be (see Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda), and very close divisional race, the next few months are going to be interesting indeed.

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Led By Unlikely Players, the Dodgers Survived and Succeeded in First Half

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The first half of the 2018 season is over , and the Dodgers have somehow found themselves in first place in the West. Of course, this is all what we expected from a team that was this close to winning the World Series last year. Yet, this season so far has been anything but what fans thought it might be.

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Will the Dodgers’ Regular Season Strength Also Be Their Postseason Weakness?

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After a nearly unprecedented June (preceded only by June of 2017) the Dodgers climbed out of the hole they were in and now find themselves neck-and-neck with the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West. How they were able to do it is a story in and of itself—one that is always worth telling. The story that I am interested in now, however, is how the Dodgers will fare going forward.

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So Far, Max Muncy’s 2018 Season Has Been Monumental

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While there have been many fantastic storylines that have come in the first-half of 2018, none has captured the hearts of Dodgers fans more than the emergence of utility man extraordinaire Max Muncy. By no means am I saying his overall statistics are monumental—his home run output is very close, though—but considering where he was on the organizational ladder last winter, his ascension to becoming the Dodger’s top slugger has been colossal. It’s almost reminiscent of the under-the-radar advent of Chris Taylor in 2017, but in a much smaller span of time.

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The Science of the Comeback: How the Dodgers Turned the 2018 Season Around

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The Los Angeles Dodgers are on another one of their infamous tears, having won 27 of their last 38 games after a six-game losing streak and season-low 10 games under .500 in mid-May. This is the stuff beat-writers dream of—a Dodgers team featuring an All-Star candidate in Matt Kemp that was considered a strong DFA candidate before the season began. Max Muncy is 2018’s 2017 Chris Taylor, and an almost entirely rebuilt rotation has filled in for injured stars, with Ross Stripling turning himself into Clayton Kershaw 2.0.

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Looking Back at the 2017 World Series & Who Was Blamed for How It Ended

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Blame is a far more common idea in baseball than people may think. We, as fans, always look for someone, or something to blame, because we have no actual control over the game. We just sit on our couches, or in our seats at the stadium, and yell as the home plate umpire makes a bad call. That is not out of character for fans of baseball, or sports in general. A certain level of complaining is in our nature. Tuesday night, even, I was thinking, or rather critiquing, about how the Dodgers could have won had they taken advantage of the bases loaded situations when they had them.

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