The Dodgers bullpen has been the Achilles heel of the team so far in 2018. Wednesday night the bullpen picked up for an injured Hyun-Jin Ryu and delivered their best performance of the season.
Perhaps it’s only fitting that a month after Kenley Jansen blew a save that lead to a wild extra-innings game in Arizona, that this would be the place that gets the Dodgers bullpen back on track. Hyun-Jin Ryu left Wednesday night’s game with a strained groin after pitching only 1 1/3 innings. That is where the Dodger bullpen started its revival.
Pedro Baez who also had a meltdown in Phoenix earlier this season, pitched 2 2/3 innings striking out four hitters and only walked one batter. Baez once again got himself into a bases-loaded situation but this time he was able to get out of it without allowing a run to score.
Daniel Hudson came in next and like Baez, he has also been struggling but he too had a good outing pitching two innings allowing no hits or walks and struck out three Diamondbacks. For Hudson, it was a return to the place where his career once took off before the injury bug bit him. Hudson and Baez who have been the weak links in the bullpen set the tone for the pen on Wednesday night.
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Tony Cingrani and Josh Fields finished off the bridge to Kenley Jansen as they each threw a scoreless inning. Cingrani would allow the potential tying run to get to second base but he recorded a strikeout to get out of the jam. Like Cingrani, Josh Fields has been one of the better relievers for the Dodgers this season but he too has been in a funk. Fields and Cingrani each allowed one hit but recorded scoreless innings. More importantly, Tony Cingrani’s “dead” arm appears to be live once again as he was hitting the upper 90’s on the radar gun.
Kenley Jansen allowed a run to score in the ninth inning and nearly blew another save but it was still an encouraging outing for Jansen. First off, Jansen was able to get out of a high pressure save situation which tested his nerves. Second, Jansen hit 95 miles per hour on his cutter multiple times and he got Ketel Marte to crack his bat which is a sign that Jansen’s cutter is working his magic. Jansen could build off this outing and get back to being the most dominant closer in the National League.
Altogether, it was a stellar outing for the Dodgers’ bullpen that came into Wednesday night’s game ranked 24th in baseball with a 4.77 ERA. Combined the bullpen threw 7 2/3 innings allowing five hits, one run, and struck out nine. Dave Roberts mentioned before the game that Wednesday night was the night things turn around and for a day at least it looks like he may be right. If the Dodger bullpen could get back to being good again then the Dodgers could go on a hot streak.