Dodgers: Front Office Bullpen Acquisitions Settling Into Their Roles

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 20: Tony Cingrani
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 20: Tony Cingrani /

With the Dodgers’ season winding down to a slow and not so dramatic close, the team will start to look at the playoff roster. While the lineups are set, the bullpen still has some question marks.

Back in late July, the Dodgers’ front office searched high and low to find some sort of a left-handed relief to aid them down the stretch. With the loss of Grant Dayton for the season along with the injuries to Adam Liberatore, it was clear they would need to search outside of the organization for help.

The result of that search was two acquisitions in the span of just a few hours. The team did some wheeling and dealing to acquire Tony Cingrani from the Reds and Tony Watson from the Pirates. When the two were acquired, they weren’t exactly having playoff-caliber seasons themselves. Watson had turned in an earned run average of 3.66 over 47 appearances. Cingrani had similar results, with a 5.40 ERA over 25 appearances out of the bullpen. But sometimes a little competition is all you need to get going, as has been the case with both of them.

Watson got off to a bit of a slow start with the Dodgers but has been lights out over the last month of baseball. In the last 13 games, Watson has only given up one earned run. In those appearances, he tossed 10 1/3 innings, good for a 0.87 earned run average. Watson has only yielded seven hits and walked three in that time span.

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Cingrani has experienced much of the same, turning in dominant performances over the last month of work. In his last 13 games, Cingrani has also given up just one earned run. In those games, he threw 12 innings good for a 0.75 earned run average. He has given up eight hits, walking 2 in the process.

So with that, the question remains: Which reliever will have the left-handed reliever role in October? The simple fact is that there may not be room for the both of them in the playoff picture. This is especially true when you consider that one of the starters will probably end up in the bullpen come October. Thus far, the bullpen will certainly consist of Kenley Jansen and a starter. Other than that, the open spots are essentially up for grabs. Brandon Morrow inches closer every day to locking in his roster spot as well as Ross Stripling, who has certainly done well this season enough to make the argument.

If this competition Dave Roberts has created continues to be as productive as it has, it is likely he will consider carrying both into October.  But if one is going to falter, it will probably come down to experience. Both men have experience in closing roles, and both men had to give up that role to someone more inclined to the pressure.

In terms of career, Watson carries the better numbers over a similar span. He owns a career 2.77 earned run average in 469 games. That compared to Cingrani’s 3.99 over 181 games is sure to be worth something. Perhaps the only part that may earn Cingrani a spot over Watson is his numbers against left-handed hitting. Watson has allowed a .274 batting average compared to Cingrani’s .246 average.

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The two have quietly settled in their role with the Dodgers. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both men make the postseason roster, especially when you consider the fact that Roberts may end up moving Maeda to the bullpen. Having multiple left-handers in the bullpen is key to making a long run in October. But if Roberts elects only to keep one, I’d see Watson’s experience earning him the role come October.