As avid followers of the Dodgers, many fans often know which relievers aren’t the most reliable out of the bullpen without needing to dig heavily into specific player statistics. At the same time, it’s difficult to comprehend that the Los Angeles relief corps still ranks second in the National League with a sub-3.00 ERA while having two or more relievers who seemingly are mainly utilized in low-leverage situations.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Of course. But I bet that Dave Roberts wishes he would’ve pulled a different play in the top of the first inning yesterday. Instead of having Chris Taylor swing away, he called for a sacrifice squeeze. The Dodgers already had two runs in, and two runners on base. Instead of getting to the rookie pitcher early, Taylor hit into a inning ending double-play where Utley was tagged out trying to go home and Yasmani Grandal was tagged trying to head into third.
While most pieces of the bullpen have shown flashes of brilliance during the young 2017 campaign, Friday evening’s implosion against the Diamondbacks left many fans of the Dodgers wondering if the relief corps has the structural integrity to hold up over the long haul, or if the front office crew will feel the need to go shopping for a few upgrades before the trade deadline arrives in July.
The rest of the inning did not go quite as smoothly. Wil Myers hit to Corey Seager at short, and Corey committed his first error of the year on the throw to Adrian Gonzalez, advancing Myers to second. He then headed to third on a passed ball by Yasmani Grandal, and scored on a hit by Yangervis Solarte. Kershaw got out of the inning, and things got much better from there.
With less than seven days remaining before the Dodgers commence their 2017 regular season campaign, both the media and the fans were given a roster clue of sorts on Monday afternoon, when skipper Dave Roberts indicated that Brandon McCarthy and Alex Wood were both still in competition for the fourth spot in the rotation, but whoever misses out on the starting slot will have a place in the big league bullpen.
While quite a number of spots on the Dodgers‘ 25-man roster are presumably set in stone, the bullpen is still a complex gray area that’s loaded with plenty of question marks. Yet after the dust finally settles at the end of March, versatile righty Ross Stripling may have found a spot among the big league relief corps.
While the status of the 40-man roster finally became locked down yesterday with the official addition of Franklin Gutierrez, the Dodgers now can begin honing in on the general makeup of the 25-man roster as Cactus League play begins this weekend. After reflecting on our projections in detail for perhaps the hundredth time, there may be two or three spots that are completely up for grabs, with some of the stiffest competition taking place among the bullpen crew.
After taking a look at one potential eighth-inning option yesterday in righty Chris Hatcher, we now move on to flamethrower Josh Ravin, who undoubtedly has all the necessary tools to make a huge impact in the Dodgers 2017 bullpen.
As there are still a few whispers regarding possible relief additions in the forms of Joe Blanton and Greg Holland, there’s no question the Dodgers have enough bullpen firepower to find success with its existing corp. And while the most critical role could certainly be the eighth-inning bridge to closer Kenley Jansen, 32-year-old righty Chris Hatcher definitely has the tools to fit the bill, however, the question still lingers as to whether he can bring all his skills together consistently for one full season.
Happy New Year, TBPC readers! We’ve made it through the holidays — spring training starts next month, and the countdown to Opening Day is on. Most of the team has taken shape, and today we take a look at the state of the Dodgers bullpen.