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.
Major League Baseball announced on Sunday afternoon that right-handed pitcher Kenley Jansen and outfielder Matt Kemp were named to the National League All-Star team, which will be managed by Dodgers‘ skipper Dave Roberts. Jansen, who was selected via player balloting, and Kemp, who was a fan-elected starter, will both be making their third All-Star appearance. Major League Baseball’s 89th All-Star Game presented will be played on Tuesday, July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. and will be televised nationally on FOX.
Heading into the 2018 regular season, one of the biggest concerns for the Dodgers was finding a suitable setup arm for closer Kenley Jansen. Yet, when Jansen was struggling mightily for the first few weeks of the campaign, that worry shifted, as all the focus was on getting the All-Star righty’s mechanics fixed. Now that Kenley appears to be back on the right track, the focal point of the bullpen could fall back on the setup role.
While there are numerous factors which have contributed to the substandard performance of the Dodgers during the first three weeks of the season, none appear to be more disconcerting than the effectiveness of team closer Kenley Jansen.
(Editor’s note: TBPC would like to welcome Ben Kirst to the site’s writing team. Despite spending most of his life in Western New York, Ben is a lifelong fan of the Dodgers, and his writing experience has included coverage of the Buffalo Bills and Sabres, Canisius College hockey, University at Buffalo basketball and various D-3/high school sports. He managed, edited and wrote for Buffalo.com for seven years. He also contributed to USCHO.com for three years and The Dunkirk (N.Y.) Observer for another four. Hopefully, Ben will tolerate all of our antics here at TBPC and continue to contribute many insightful articles in the future. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter @BK77.)
Many media outlets who cover the Dodgers have been spending quite a bit of time this winter discussing the components of the prospective 2018 bullpen, and we are no exception. For the most part, the group who will make up this season’s relief corp is defined, but which roles each pitcher will ultimately assume—sans Kenley Jansen—may take some time to develop. Last season, after a few years of searching, the club’s quest to find a quality eighth-inning arm was finally fulfilled when righty Brandon Morrow eventually settled into the part; however, that exact pursuit will begin anew when players begin reporting to spring training next month.
Now that the winter hot stove is finally beginning to heat up, many followers of the Dodgers are wondering if the Los Angeles management crew will make any significant moves to bolster the club’s roster before pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch in just a few short months.
Despite the Dodgers making just a few run-of-the-mill roster transactions so far this offseason, the front office has been relatively quiet, although rumors continue to swirl identifying slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Japanese superstar Shohei Otani as potential targets. But while adding Stanton and/or Otani isn’t exactly out of the realm of impossibility, it’s very much unlikely, as the Los Angeles management crew may be inclined to take a more economical route at filling out the roster.
At the non-waiver trade deadline, they all say that the team that makes a big move will be the team putting themselves in the best position to win in October. Well, winter is no exception. The free agent market this year is interesting, and there are some big names out there—players that contenders need to sign.