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The State of the Dodgers Bullpen

The Dodgers bullpen has been, uh, problematic for the past two years. While having its highs and lows in both 2018 and 2019, the bullpen has been consistently good during the regular seasons. However, come the postseason, it's a different story. Whether it's Jansen inexplicably giving up home runs in the World Series, nobody being able to get an out in Game 4, or the whole NLDS Game 5 situation, the bullpen has collapsed at a critical point in the last two Octobers. Hopefully, this year, things will be different, as the Dodgers have spent the offseason building their strongest bullpen in both name and numbers in years. Today, I'll be taking a look at whom I would give the 8 bullpen spots to to start 2020. I'm assuming that Gonsolin and May will be built up as starters at AAA and that Nelson will be hurt to start the year, but none of that might be the case, so who knows what might happen with them.


Kenley Jansen - The All-Star closer has no been himself the past two years, ever since Marwin Gonzales got him in Game 2 of the 2017 World Series. After a visit to Driveline Baseball, Jansen has looked extremely sharp, and (dare I say) like his 2016-17 self, something he will hopefully be able to carry into the season with him.


Pedro Baez - Once the guy who, when he came into the game, would make it a good time to use the bathroom, Baez has been an invaluable and remarkably consistently member of the bullpen, with an ERA hovering around 3.00 the past 2 years. A steady set-up man for Kenley, Baez could certainly close if needed.


Joe Kelly - Kelly was better than everybody remembers last year, at least from mid-May to August, where he ERA was below 2. After a slow start and then a mysterious injury, Kelly wasn't ready for the playoffs and it showed. Hopefully, we get a full and consistent season for Kelly and he can perform in October like he did in 2017.


Blake Treinen - Treinen was filthy in 2018 and meh in 2019. Hopefully, he can regain the nastiness he displayed as closer for the A's in 2018 and prove that his poor 2019 was due to injuries. He is yet to pitch in Spring Training due to some mechanical changes he's making, and hopefully they can help make him an effective set-up man.


Adam Kolarek - He can get lefties out with ease, and I guess he's ok(?) against righties. With the new 3-batter minimum, Kolarek will certainly have to prove himself, but his filth against lefties should be able to keep him in the 'pen as long as he doesn't implode against righties.


Ross Stripling - Stripling is, in my opinion, criminally underrated. For the few years, he's done whatever the Dodgers needed, be it starting, relieving, whatever, no complaints. He will likely be a long reliever and make a few starts here and there in long stretches of the Summer and as an injury replacement. He does not appear to be a candidate to start the season in the rotation.


Brusdar Graterol - The main return in the Maeda trade, Graterol has already made quite the impression at Camelback Ranch, with Roberts and teammates raving about both his character and pitches. Graterol can hit 100 mph with ease and has a 92 mph slider. The guy is nasty. That's about all there is to it. He might start the season in the minors, and his innings will be limited, but I think he can and should help the Dodgers right out of the gate.


Scott Alexander - I would give this spot to Alexander before Caleb Ferguson just because it seems like what the Dodgers are going to do and Alexander is older and more experienced. A groundball specialist who only sometimes gets groundballs, Alexander has been inconsistent as a Dodger. Sometimes he's unhittable, whether it be because he's striking everyone out or walking everyone, and sometimes he's exclusively hittable. Limited in 2019 due to a nerve issue in his hand, Alexander looks to have a strong bounce-back campaign in 2020.



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©2020 by Sam Scherer