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.
Considering the recent struggles of the Dodgers bullpen, there’s bound to be a number of moves on the horizon, even before rosters expand at the beginning of September. Besides the collapse of every available arm in the current crew, there’s been plenty of other news, most specifically the back injury to righty Ross Stripling and yet another setback for hard-throwing right-hander Josh Fields.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a whole, fans of the Dodgers are often discredited for their gut reactions and passionate criticism when trying to evaluate the overall performance of their favorite club. However, this year, many followers of the team appear to be right on the money with their assessments. While the club has been rumored to be making strong pushes for several possible position player upgrades, the glaring needs are with the relief corps. And while it’s getting to the point when many folks start chattering about the playoffs, it’s hard to think the Dodgers can succeed with the options they have in house—even with one of the best closers in the game as their anchor.
While there have been many conversations this season surrounding the big league bullpen of the Dodgers, many fans have taken it upon themselves to scour the depths of the farm system in search of any rising arms that stand out. In the past, it was rare to find a true reliever who was developed in the bullpen, because most of the pitchers with the highest values are often groomed as starters regardless of their pedigrees. However, in the newest generation of prospects, pitchers like Joe Broussard, Shea Spitzbarth, and Marshall Kasowski have been developed as relievers since day one and have been rising to the top very quickly. Add Rancho Cucamonga reliever Zach Pop to the aforementioned crew, and it’s not difficult to see why the organization is extremely excited about the bullpen talent that’s ready to emerge.