Let’s Talk About the Dodgers Bullpen

If you had told Los Angeles Dodgers fans on Thursday, before the start of the four game series with the San Diego Padres, that the Dodgers would take three of four, most would be incredibly happy with that.

Indeed, that is something to be happy about. The Dodgers increased their lead in the NL West by two games and now are 3.5 games ahead of the Padres.

Sunday’s game was the only loss. Mookie Betts returned to the lineup after having been out dealing with a sore rib and went two-for-three with a run scored. Clayton Kershaw was his vintage self, going seven scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking only one batter.

But the end of Sunday’s matinee game will leave a sour taste in Dodger fans’ mouths for awhile. The Dodgers were up 1-0 in the top of the ninth and Craig Kimbrel entered to close out the game. He struck out Manny Machado, but then on the next batter, took a ball off of his scapula. He stayed in the game, but ended up giving up four runs, and the Padres went on to win the game.

It could be that the hit off his back led him to not pitch well after he was hit. But more likely, he is just not as good as he once was, and becoming a detriment to the bullpen. Since May 15, he has been scored upon more often than not. Sunday was his third blown save in his last seven appearances.

After the game, Manager Dave Roberts said that scans on Kimbrel’s back were negative, and he would be down for a couple days. When he returns, he absolutely will still be the closer, because “he deserves that”.

But should he? Yes, the Dodgers made the choice to send AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox to acquire the closer. And yes, he started the season pretty dominant. And yes, the bullpen is a little depleted right now due to injury.

But at the same time, a ‘closer’ is brought in to close out the game. To shut the door. To not even let the other team get on base, let alone score runs.

No closer is infallible, of course. Pitchers are human and have bad days. But with Kimbrel, it seems he is either really good or really bad, and you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. Except lately, it has trended much more towards really bad.

Blake Treinen would be the obvious choice for replacing Kimbrel as closer. That is, once he returns from the injured list. Unfortunately that timetable is still unclear.

“Blake, I was watching throw, he’s really good and it’s close,” Roberts said. “But what that means I can’t even specify right now. But yeah, he’s been tracking really well.”

Until then, perhaps the Dodgers could turn to Evan Phillips. He has been just as dominant so far this season as Treinen has been in past seasons. Caleb Ferguson also is due to return to the bullpen at the end of his IL stint. Dustin May could be deployed as a lethal arm out of the ‘pen as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. While he wouldn’t necessarily be the closer, David Price has looked really good in his last few appearances. And the Dodgers still have returns from David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to look forward to towards the end of the season.

Until then, however, the Dodgers will continue to put Craig Kimbrel out in the ninth inning. If nothing else, the Dodgers and Dave Roberts go above and beyond believing in their players that they will once again regain their form. Let’s just hope that this tactic helps them more than harms.

Padres Defeat Dodgers to Avoid Weekend Sweep

Trailing the entire game, the Padres scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning on Sunday to defeat the Dodgers 4-2 and avoid a four-game sweep at Dodger Stadium.

After starting the series with a 1-1/2 game division lead over the Padres, the Dodgers find themselves 3-1/2 games up over their Southern California rivals. Even though it was a productive series for Los Angeles, Sunday’s loss was still disappointing because the team was so close to the sweep.

The Dodgers wasted an excellent outing from lefty Clayton Kershaw, a narrative that has been common throughout his career. Kershaw threw seven strong shutout innings, surrendering just four hits and a walk while striking out eight batters. He tossed a season-high 98 pitches.

The Dodgers got on the board in the first inning after Mookie Betts led off the game with a double to left field and later scored when Trea Turner smoked a double of his own to the same part of the park. That lead held throughout the entire game until the Padres came up to bat in the ninth.

Evan Phillips, who has emerged as a somewhat reliable eighth-inning option in the absence of Daniel Hudson and Blake Treinen, pitched a perfect eighth, setting his team up for the win with a 1-0 lead.

That is, until Craig Kimbrel entered the game to save it.

Third baseman Manny Machado started the ninth by striking out. Jake Cronenworth followed by smashing a 100-MPH line-drive comebacker that went off Kimbrel’s back, sending the pitcher to the ground. Kimbrel stayed in the game temporarily, but he was removed after Luke Voit doubled of the top of the left field wall to score Cronenworth and Eric Hosmer singled to score C.J. Abrams, who pinch ran for Voit.

When Kimbrel exited, the Padres had a 2-1 lead. San Diego added two more when Ha-Seong Kim hit a two-run homer of Yency Almonte, who replaced Kimbrel.

By the time the smoke cleared on the top of the ninth, the Padres had a 4-1 lead.

After Gavin Lux started the bottom of the ninth with a strikeout, Betts began a mini-rally with a one-out double to right field. Trea Turner followed with a single, setting up Freddie Freeman with runners at first and third with one out.

However, Freeman managed just a sacrifice fly to score Betts. Will Smith grounded out to second base to end the game.

The Dodgers begin a three-game series against the Rockies at home on Monday.

Thoughts About the Los Angeles Dodgers, Freddie Freeman, and Hangovers

Most people understand what a good hangover is. Many people will equate that to a night where they just had a little too much adult libations but it can come from all sorts of things. Maybe just not drinking enough water the day before to having an huge emotion experience in your life that drained you and you need time to just recover.

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Off Days Come at Perfect Time for Slumping Dodgers

When the Los Angeles Dodgers are good, they are very very good, and when they are bad, they are horrid.

Now, horrid may actually a little too harsh a word, but things were not great for the Dodgers this past weekend in San Francisco. Los Angeles was swept by the Giants, and only managed to score four runs total despite having an incredible amount of chances to score in each game.

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Dodgers Fall to Giants in Clayton Kershaw’s Return

The Dodgers brought back lefty Clayton Kershaw to the mound on Saturday with hopes it would rejuvenate a team that won just four of its last 11 games. However, another poor offensive showing resulted in a 3-2 loss for Los Angeles, securing the series win for San Francisco with a possibility of sweeping on Sunday.

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Should Fans Be Concerned About Walker Buehler?

Coming into the season, Walker Buehler was one of the favorites to win the National League Cy Young Award. But, in his recent starts, he has not been his normal self. Yes, it hasn’t been entirely catastrophic, but we fans know the young righty can be much better.

Buehler has one complete game shutout this season. Outside of that start, he has posted a 4.50 ERA, which is uncommon. In his last outing, he only lasted 2 ⅓ innings against the New York Mets — the shortest outing of his career.

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Thoughts on the Dodgers Season So Far

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place in the NL West, and have the fourth best record in all of baseball.

For most teams, fans would be thrilled with that last statement. To have your team in the position to be one of the best in baseball and have a solid chance at the postseason is really all you as a sports fan could ask for.

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Dodgers Begin Six-Game Road Trip Against White Sox

After splitting a four-game series with the top-contending New York Mets at home, a road trip now awaits the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers begin a six-game road trip Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox. After finishing a three-game series in Chicago, the Dodgers will head to San Francisco for the first time this season.

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Dodgers Injury Updates and Other Notes

The Los Angeles Dodgers have made it to the end of their marathon month, 31 games in 30 days, and are finally enjoying their first day off since May 19th. After two road trip and two home stands, the Dodgers finish this slog-fest with a record of 19-12, and 35-19 overall.

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