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Will the Dodgers Bullpen Improve?

The downfall this post season was due to an over worked and inexperienced bullpen - the same issue the Dodgers have had the prior three post-seasons. This year some moves worked out well for the Dodgers. Joe Blanton came back after a year off from the game, re-energized, in-shape and was a steady work horse for Dave Roberts in the regular season. The only thing Blanton lacked in the post season was energy. The Dodgers made the most pitching changes in baseball in 2016. Although it bodes well in the regular season, we have seen multiple times now where a thin bullpen cannot get the job done down the stretch in the playoffs.

Andrew Friedman HAS to make this a priority this off-season if the Dodgers are to make any improvements as to where they finish at the end of the year - in this case, making it to the World Series. Not that having Kershaw and Jansen pitch whenever they can is a horrible idea, but you have to wonder if there is ever going to be help on the way. The Dodgers silver lining this year is that Kershaw got a couple months off during the regular season while he was on the disabled list. Who's to say he would of been able to pitch as much as he did in the playoffs had he not been placed on the DL. Unfortunately, hardly any other starter could last longer than 5 innings in the playoffs, taxing Dave Roberts' tired bullpen.

Who are some possibilities the Dodgers can bring in for the bullpen in 2017 via free agency? Right from the get go, I am going to say Jansen. If the Dodgers want to continue to be contenders, the front office needs to make it a #1 priority to bring back Jansen in 2017 - no matter the cost. Some more possibilities to improve the bullpen are Mark Melancon (Especially if Dodgers lose out on re-signing Jansen), Brett Cecil, Eric O'Flaherty, Fernando Rodriguez and Neftali Feliz. In short, this 2016 Free Agent list is rich with possibilities to upgrade the bullpen.

You may notice, I left one name in particular off the list of relievers. Aroldis Chapman maybe? Does anyone else find it a coincidence that when the Dodgers had a trade in place for Chapman, MLB as a whole was up in arms? But, when the Yankees spring a trade for him not soon after, it's a fantastic move and addition to their bullpen? I'll tell you right now I don't condone domestic violence. However, I will tell you that west coast bias in Major League Baseball is a real thing. This one instance is just many that I can think off the top of my head of ways the MLB seems to favor the teams not located on the western side of the country. Instead of mentioning other ways the bias is a real thing, I will write a separate column about it in the near future.

Major League Baseball has ruined the possibility of Chapman ever wearing a Dodger uniform, and for more than one reason I am actually okay with that. Don't get me wrong, Aroldis is a great closer; however, he seems to be inconsistent. That could just be bad luck, with batters getting blooped singles with what would normally be easy outs, with his velocity being the highest in baseball. Although, I think his control is more of an example of his struggles. When you light up the radar gun with fastball after fastball hitting 100 MPH plus, people seem to not notice as much that you're not hitting the strike zone consistently. For the price, Dodgers can get more help in the bullpen by signing a "bulk" of relief pitchers rather than throw extra money at Chapman.

With that, I will end this post by stating what I said from the beginning - the bullpen has been the Dodgers downfall for the past four seasons now. The fact that it has been an issue this long has baffled me. Luckily, there is no better Free Agent market than now.  If Andrew Friedman and company take advantage of this, they can change the Dodgers fortune.  And it all starts with the bullpen...

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  1. I have to disagree to an extent. The downfall of the Dodgers this playoff run was 2 fold. 1) Lack of any offense for to many games. Watching the last game against the Cubs was flat out aggravating. 2) Lack of starting pitching, I think we had a great pen. And yes we have to make Jensen #1 this offense. But we need to get healthy in our starting pitching!


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