It’s so refreshing to finally see the Dodgers making the right moves. Yes it’s still kind of aggravating that they could have made these moves weeks, or months ago. But I guess it’s better late than never right?
I am so excited for the future of the Dodger bullpen, and I fully believe brighter days are ahead for the bullpen boys. The now red-hot Dodgers made two moves to strengthen their bullpen. They optioned mediocre veteran Peter Moylan back to Albuquerque and called up 22 year old Dominican fireballer Jose Dominguez. They also then designated for assignment Matt Guerrier, and recalled right hander Chris Withrow.
Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Jose Dominguez (60) pitches during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium.-Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
This now gives the Dodgers two bona-fide young power arms in the backend of their bullpen. Nothing excites me more than this. We had already gotten a look at Withrow who can reach up to 98-99 on the gun. Yesterday afternoon we got our first look at Dominguez, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning against Philadelphia. He recorded his first career whiff, and reached 101 MPH on the radar gun.
The Dodgers had needed this for a long time now. They’ve needed this since April. The Dodger bullpen has been one of the worst and most inconsistent in the National League. The Dodgers pen ranks 26 in ERA (4.39). They’ve blown 16 games, and lost a league high 17 games. Opponents are batting .271 against Dodger relievers, and their WHIP of 1.42 ranks them 28 in all of Baseball. Changes were needed weeks earlier.
The Dodgers did just that. First they moved struggling closer Brandon League out of the role he was unable to keep. Instead they moved the dominant Kenley Jansen back into the closer role he clearly never should have been removed from in the first place. Once Kenley reclaimed the closer spot that is without question his, the other pieces started falling into place.
The Dodgers then made the above moves. The two youngsters have been putting up great strike out numbers in the minors. The 24 year old Withrow, was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen back in 2012, after he struggled as a starter. Since then he has been much better, despite still having a problem with his control.
Last season, Withrow appeared in 22 games for Chattanooga. He whiffed 64 in 60 innings, posting a 4.65 ERA, but a 9.6 whiff per nine rate. That’s over a whiff per frame. Pretty good. He did have control problems, walking 36, and posting a 5.4 walks per nine rate, but he started working on that. This season he has been better. Withrow appeared in 24 games for Albuquerque this season. He posted a 5-0 record, a 1.78 ERA, and whiffed 32 in 25.1 innings for an 11.4 whiff per nine rate. His minor league career rate is an impressive 9.4.
Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Chris Withrow (44) fields a ground ball during the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.-Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Dominguez has been pitching since 2008. The 22 year old was once a starter to but converted to strictly relief duties. Considered to be a Pedro Martinez clone, with a similar build and frame has the young flame thrower already seeing comparisons. Dominguez whiffed 40 batters in 25.1 innings this year, split in between Chattanooga, and Albuquerque. Dominguez’s fastball has been considered one of the best in the system.
Withrow’s fastball regularly reaches the mid 90’s but can he can increase velocity up to around 97-98. Dominguez’s fastball commonly reaches triple digits. He was clocked at up to 101 MPH in yesterday’s game against Philadelphia.
Take a look below….
These two guys don’t come without some baggage though. Both have been pitching in the minors for years. Both come with control problems. Especially Withrow, who has greatly struggled with his command. Dominguez was suspended for violating Baseball’s drug policy, not once but twice. He insists he’s clean now, and has learned his lesson. There are some question marks. Will Withrow’s command problems work themselves out? Can Dominguez stay out of trouble? I think both pitchers are ready to address these issues and get their feet wet.
Adding these two power arms to the backend of the Dodger bullpen finally gives the team power arm options in the late innings. That’s something which is super important when you’re trying to hold leads late in games. The Dodgers now have multiple strike out guys to choose from in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. It’s unclear what their roles will be, but it’s fair to think they’re going to get a lot of chances in those late innings. Bringing up young players/pitchers with powerful arms can inject your team, and their bullpen with large amounts of vitality and energy. It’s something that can turn around a season.
The Dodgers waited far too long to make these moves. But as I said before, I guess it’s better late than never.