In case you missed yesterday’s column, the theme of the story surrounded the sputtering offense of the Dodgers, although we did reflect on how it seemed that other areas of the club sometimes have tendencies to under-perform on any given day.
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.
We’re halfway through the third week of spring training and, so far, the Los Angeles Dodgers news from Camelback Ranch has been fairly tame. Norovirus swept through the clubhouse this past week, sending over two dozen Dodgers back to their bunks (and, presumably, their bathrooms) for a couple days before running its course.
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.
All week long, most of the discussions around the Dodgers blogosphere have been surrounding the impending 25-man roster for the upcoming NLDS. While the majority of the key decisions certainly have already been made, there are a few spots which have come down to the final series of the regular season, with a few of them involving the prospective starting rotation and bullpen. Unfortunately for the pitchers doing the auditioning, Coors Field isn’t exactly the ideal spot to plead a case.
At the beginning of 2017 spring training, the bullpen of the Los Angeles Dodgers appeared as if it was in outstanding shape, especially in terms of having several quality lefty arms at its disposal. However, as the season began to take shape, so did the landscape of the relief corps. Grant Dayton was never quite the same as he was in 2016, and eventually fell victim to a ligament tear, which would ultimately end his season. Adam Liberatore, who was one of several workhorses in the relief crew last year, was hampered by injuries for most of the current campaign. And Luis Avilan, well, is Luis Avilan.
For many followers of the Dodgers, the general consensus was that the club needed some type of upgrade before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31. In turn, with elite Baltimore closer Zach Britton being virtually untouchable, Los Angeles snagged a pair of southpaws in Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani during the waning moments of the cutoff period. Yet, now that the need for at least one lefty arm has been addressed, those same followers are still wondering if the team’s relief corps has enough firepower to succeed deep into the 2017 postseason.