Dodgers: Setup Reliever Roles in Question For Struggling Bullpen

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 29: Pitcher J.T. Chargois
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 29: Pitcher J.T. Chargois /

The Dodgers bullpen is struggling mightily to begin the 2018 season, even All-Star closer Kenley Jansen has struggled to find his form.  It might be time to shake things up in the bullpen.

On Friday night the Dodgers bullpen continued to struggle as Tony Cingrani and Pedro Baez once again teamed up the lose a game for the Dodgers again.  On Tuesday night, Cingrani and Pedro Baez each gave up runs late to secure a win for the visiting Miami Marlins.  On Friday night it was more of the same as Cingrani and Baez combined to give up four runs and the Dodgers blew another win.

For Pedro Baez, I have been one of his biggest supporters but the guy is just a mess right now.  He stumbled while attempting to throw a pitch which is a balk and led to more runs for the Giants.  Baez has struggled lately with his command and found a new way to blow a game on Friday.  Cingrani started out as one of the Dodgers’ best relievers but he appears to have hit the same wall that Baez has.

Right now the Dodgers’ best setup reliever has been Josh Fields.  Fields has an ERA under one and an opponent’s average of .179.  Fields’ WHIP is also very low at 0.91.  The issue for the Dodgers has been that outside of Fields nobody is putting up zeroes out of the bullpen.  The newest Dodger Daniel Hudson is one potential fill in for the seventh inning role but he is still in the process of trying to impress the Dodgers.

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I think the time has come for the Dodgers to promote Ross Stripling to a setup role and also JT Chargois.  Stripling has primarily been the Dodgers long reliever in the bullpen but it seems he is often found in tough situations in extra innings.  Promoting him to a seventh-inning relief role could help the Dodgers big time.  Ross Stripling does not have power stuff but he has held opposing batters to a .235 batting average so far this season.  Stripling is using more of his slider and changeup to pitch backward and receive better results.

JT Chargois is another unproven reliever that the Dodgers need to find out what they have in him.  Chargois currently boasts a 2.25 ERA and a .179 average allowed to opposing hitters.  Chargois is a former second-round pick of the Twins and has a lot of potential.  His fastball has hard two-seam action and he flashes a decent little slider.  While Chargois is unproven in the major leagues, it’s not like the Dodgers have better options.

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The only set roles right now are Kenley Jansen at closer, and Josh Fields should be the primary eighth-inning setup role.  The seventh inning is completely up for grabs with the recent struggles of Tony Cingrani and Pedro Baez.  The front office and Dave Roberts need to give Chargois and Stripling a shot in higher leverage roles.  If they pan out the Dodgers know they have another legit reliever or two, and if they didn’t pan out they didn’t lose anything.