In a 25-0 drubbing during the opening series against the San Diego Padres all was going well for LA and for Dave Roberts as manager. Through this series 7 men got work out of the bullpen and all 7 only worked together to give up just 5 hits in 8 innings. This was an extremely positive sign for the club at the time with the offence and defense working well together for the perfect start to the year.
However as the club moved to San Francisco, the bullpen, offence and defense all shattered and that start seemingly meant nothing to anyone. The Dodgers gave up 26 runs through 4 games, the bullpen responsible for 12 of them. Through 4 games this means the bullpen gave up 3 a game, a recipe for not making playoffs.
Not only were there these 12 runs but the bullpen also managed to blow 2 saves in Yimi Garcia and Chris Hatcher and had 2 losses in Joe Blanton and Louis Coleman.
This was concerning for Dave Roberts and his team as they went from such a high to a devastating low, none of which hurt more for anyone, especially Ross Stripling than his blown no hitter in his debut, when Hatcher came in, faced one batter, and gave up the game tying 2 run home run.
The D-Backs came to town and the trend continued for a game where the bullpen blew another save and were hit with the loss in the Dodger’s home opener behind Kenta Maeda’s 6 innings of no run baseball.
From this point however it seemed the bullpen flipped a switch and with the help of some offence, even though LA weren’t getting the wins the bullpen had kept their ERA to 0.00 since the Giants series at home and with 9 innings of no runs.
The snap had to end however and last night’s game against the struggling Atlanta Braves in the 8-1 loss is where this would come to tuition.
Dave and his team were faced with a tough question to ask, how do they get to the unfazed Kenly Jansen to try and get him saves. Kenley’s ERA is still 0.00, he has 5 saves and only given up the 2 hits in 5.2IP.
With the ‘pen as it is, up and down with no predictability and with no signs of trading for better relievers or signing anyone off the free agents list, it seems for Dave and his management the best choice as of right now would go something like this; get Joe Blanton or the lefty JP Howell out there for the end of the 6th, into the 7th, with Liberatore or Hatcher to follow on to the 8th with Jansen following them up for the save and if need be, pitching 1.2 or 1.1 like he did on the 13th, against Arizona.
Bringing Kenley in for 5 outs is a risky move of course for everyone involved and will require the next night’s game to be something special as Kenley would be out for a while but a win is a win and with the bullpen as it is right now early in the season, the risk verses reward was just a little too out there for my liking.
However, the question that need answering is, is there anything wrong with the bullpen and as I can see it now it is just an average bullpen so far in the majors, averaging a 4.04ERA which puts them 19th in the MLB. But the silver lining is that it is early and when given run support in the late innings or a big enough lead the pen has managed to get the club to an 8-6 record, which means keeping this up for 162 games leaves the team with somewhere just shy of 90 wins so something needs to pick up.
For now though, don’t worry about it until the next time they have a few bad outings in a row where we should see Dave’s plan for his relief men.