The Dodgers bullpen continues to remain a hot topic for the 2018 version of the Los Angeles Dodgers. While the pen is looking to improve, Adam Liberatore and Yimi Garcia are two key members who can help the pen regain its dominance.
On Saturday night the Dodgers bullpen reverted back to being the Achilles heel as the Dodgers coughed up a one-run lead and ended up losing 7-4 to the last place San Diego Padres. This time it was Josh fields turn to turn in a lackluster performance. Daniel Hudson then came in and allowed the game to get out of hand.
If there is good news regarding the bullpen it is that Adam Liberatore and Yimi Garcia are now fully healthy and ready to contribute. For Yimi Garcia, he has made a full recovery from Tommy John surgery and other arm troubles to return to the big leagues for the first time in two years. Yimi was starting to establish himself as a legit late-inning option for the Dodgers prior to his arm troubles.
Garcia posted ERA’s of 3.34 and 3.24 in 2015 and 2016. He first came up in 2014 and posted an ERA under two in a small sample size of ten innings. So far this season, Yimi Garcia has thrown 1 1/3 innings with both situations being high leverage situations. In his very first game back with the Dodgers, Yimi was tasked with facing the heart of the order for a very hot Diamondbacks team. Although he allowed an unearned run, Yimi had some bad luck between an error and a couple hits that snuck through the infield.
Yimi Garcia has always had very good stuff. He has a sweeping slider that he uses as his out pitch and he has a fastball that has running movement on it. This season Garcia is averaging a stellar 95.3 MPH on his fastball. Combined with the movement his fastball has and it’s easy to see why Yimi Garcia is being put into high leverage situations by Dave Roberts. His stuff is as good as anyone in the bullpen.
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For Adam Liberatore, he has been hampered by various injuries the past few seasons. Between knee and shoulder ailments, Liberatore has bounced around the minors and disabled list over the past year. In 2016 he showed just how good he can be when healthy as he posted an impressive 0.61 ERA prior to the 2016 All-Star break. There was even talk if Adam Liberatore was going to make the all-star team that season as a middle reliever.
Liberatore has been pretty effective against both right and left-handed hitters throughout his Dodger career. Lefties hit .209 off Adam while righties don’t fare much better with a .238 average. Liberatore is a three-pitch reliever, relying on his low 90’s fastball, changeup, and a solid biting slider. If he can stay healthy then the Dodgers will have a very good second southpaw to pair with Tony Cingrani in the pen.
It’s no secret just how highly Dave Roberts thinks of Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore as both relievers were used in Friday night’s combined no-hitter. Garcia and Liberatore are both capable of being a part of the Dodgers’ bridge to Kenley Jansen. If both are able to stay healthy then the Dodger bullpen is going to improve in a hurry. Both relievers have above average stuff and can get the job done in the late innings.