Setup relievers have been a nightmare in the Playoffs
Another trend the Dodgers need to reverse this October is the struggles of their bullpen. Last year they regularly used Kenley Jansen for multiple innings and even called on Kershaw to close out one game that Kenley Jansen wasn’t able to. Having to use your ace as a closer in the first round of the playoffs is not a good sign.
Let’s take a look at the key set-up men of the last three playoff bullpens:
2016 – Grant Dayton (8.10 ERA), Joe Blanton (7.88 ERA), Ross Stripling (8.31 ERA)
2015 – Pedro Baez (81.00 ERA), Alex Wood (18.00 ERA), Chris Hatcher (0.00 ERA)
2014 – JP Howell (13.50 ERA), Pedro Baez (7.71 ERA), Brandon League (0.00 ERA)
The irony in the struggles of the Dodgers setup men has been that two of the most hated relievers by fans in recent memory did not allow a single postseason run in Chris Hatcher and Brandon League (albeit in limited action).
Pedro Baez has seemingly struggled every post-season with the exception of last year where he had a 2.57 ERA. Blanton who was the Dodgers primary eighth-inning option last year was absolutely terrible and Grant Dayton scuffled after coming along strong towards the middle of last season.
This season the Dodgers will have Brandon Morrow for the seventh or eighth inning and he has electric stuff. Hopefully, this will translate to postseason success although he hasn’t been in the playoffs before.
The Dodgers are still sorting through their southpaw relievers in Avilan, Watson, and Cingrani to see who gets the main LOOGY role but the expectation is that Avilan and Watson will get the most usage.
Ryu and Maeda could also become middle relief options in October and then there is the rookie phenom Walker Buehler who could make the postseason roster.
All in all these are the three main areas the Dodgers will need to improve on to make a successful championship run. Lets see if they could put their past playoff struggles behind them and bring LA its first World Series title since 1988.