Life has not been easy throughout the past 10 Dodger baseball games. Mustering all of one win, while being tagged with nine losses, will not really impress many fans of the team – or quality baseball, for that matter. There has been a lot of people who were waiting on an almighty collapse by the Dodgers, and it seems that we are most likely seeing the worst of it.
The chances of falling from the number one position are extremely slim, but the recent efforts and willingness to compete have had only glimpses; the biggest one being the gem that was tossed in the last San Diego series by Clayton Kershaw. It’s also worth noting that the Kershaw performance was the only win in the past 10 games.
Pitching, both in the likes of starting and relief outings, have been a trademark to Dodger baseball since the season opened up. Lately, however, it has been only the starting staff who has held up their end of the bargain. The past four games have made clear examples of how the bullpen has been unable to harness anyway of controlling their role in games. Los Angeles relievers have given up a whopping 20 ER out of the 32 total ER allowed. If you are Dave Roberts, seeing a top-three bullpen (in statistical categories) give up 62.5 percent of the runs scored in the past four games should raise a cause for concern.
Maybe there are some overworked arms in the Dodger bullpen, but maybe these relievers are just trying to coast their way through scouting reports and pitch-execution. There are guys out of the ‘pen who have still done their job quite well; but also with that, there is a select group that has put the confidence of players, organization, and fans, in jeopardy. Players like Pedro Baez, Wilmer Font and Josh Fields, has struck high levels of disappointment among Dodger Nation.
Numbers One, Two, and Three (most disappointing to least disappointing):
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Not only have the Dodgers counted on Pedro to bloom into a premier back-end reliever in the past, but he also gave them a good reason to, up until late. Baez has been somewhat notorious for being a batting practice pitcher and seemingly getting rained on when he is brought into pitch in a high-leverage situation. Unlike the Pedro Baez that people thought he was and would continue to be, he has performed considerably better through the 2017 campaign. With a few bad blemishes in his most recent outings, the Dodgers undoubtedly are hoping for a turnaround with Baez. Times in the past where he seemed to lack confidence and command need to be blocked out for the Dodger flamethrower to maintain success going into October. Our colleague Anthony Perez wrote an article earlier today questioning if Baez has lost his job as the setup man.
The 32-year-old right-hander has set a new career-high of ten home runs allowed this season. That’s definitely not a strong point when you look at his full numbers for Fields. Posting a sub-3.20 ERA, Fields has also held batters to an impressive .202 BAA this season. Unfortunately, the inability to locate pitches at times has led to a slight pounding on the composure of Fields. It would probably do him some good to gain a few rest days and to put emphasis on keeping the ball down and finishing his pitches, to help avoid hanging pitches over the heart of the plate.
Through only three outings with the Dodgers this year, Wilmer Font has proven to be a liability. He is ranked as ‘least disappointing,’ because he does not appear to possess necessary tools to hold himself as an active big-league reliever. Before last night’s game, Font had an ERA of 20.25 after his first two outings; and that includes five hits, four walks, one home run, and an unflattering six earned-runs. The early numbers are concerning because there was hope that Font could help this club and possibly make his way onto the postseason roster. After these early performances, it’s unlikely that Font will be involved in any part of the postseason bullpen and is only here to take some pressure off of the key relievers of the Dodgers.
Of course, the main hope remains that all Dodger relievers have success, but for the ones that have recently experienced some difficulties, maybe they will translate those outings into lessons. There is still another month for this bullpen to get back into midseason form and once again, this time when it matters most. For all the worrisome fans of the last two weeks, no record or statistic could ever match the feeling of being World Series Champions, when all is said and done. So, let’s just consider this slump a little bump in the road. When the door needs to be shut in October, these Dodger relievers will be confident enough to close it out.