With all the attention that’s been placed upon the Dodgers‘ big league pitching staff during the first-half of the season, the conversations surrounding both the bullpen and starting rotation have been endless. Many folks familiar with the team sometimes scan the rosters of the minor league affiliates daily in search of an emerging arm which could potentially contribute at the major league level.
Tossing around a few ideas for Sunday’s column, my initial plan was to take a crack at optimizing the Dodgers‘ current bullpen crew, at least from a standpoint of which pitchers are the most capable. However, the way the club’s 25-man roster personnel is being handled these days, it sometimes boils down to whomever has the freshest of arms, especially with regard to who’s on the current 40-man roster.
With all the scrutiny that’s been following around the Los Angeles relief crew, there have been plenty of conversations regarding a number of prospects who could conceivably contribute to the Dodgers‘ big league bullpen at some point during the year. On occasion, we’ve offered up quite a few ideas ourselves, specifically converting a few live arms like Dennis Santana or Yadier Alvarez from starters to relievers. However, one recent convert, 24-year-old Josh Sborz, may be closer to the big league level than many think.
Despite a recent series struggle against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Oklahoma City Dodgers have been the gem of the PCL this season as they still control the American Northern division and lead the entire league with a 24-12 record.
For as much as the big league club has been struggling with its offense so far this season, the Oklahoma City Dodgers have been making up for it with their own bats. The Triple-A crew is off to fine 5-1 record as a team, as they’re hitting a combined .306/.377/.447 through the first six games of the young campaign. Although the 19-run output against Round Rock earlier this week represents a big chunk of their production, they still have put 40 runs on the board so far, which translates to 6.67 runs scored per game—a very impressive number any way you look at it.
There’s no question that the Dodgers‘ big league, 25-man roster is structured to handle a short-term absence from just about any player on the squad. The team has relief pitchers who can start, starters who can relieve, outfielders who can play the infield, and even a utility man who can handle the catching duties. However, if another type of unfortunate, long-term injury occurs at any point during the season, the club may find themselves forced to dip into the minor league depths for added cover.
For those of you who are regular readers of this site, you know that we spend a lot of time covering the Dodgers‘ minor league affiliates, especially the Double-A Tulsa Drillers. And for those of you who tuned in frequently over the winter months, you know that we gave a lot of air time time to 21-year-old righty pitching prospect, Dennis Santana.
For those fans who watched Monday night’s contest against Arizona to the bitter end, they saw a little bit of everything from the Dodgers—sketchy starting pitching, some stellar relief pitching, some timely hitting, and another unimpressive appearance from one of the best closer in baseball.