Dodgers: Fields Settling in as the Primary Eighth Inning Reliever

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: Josh Fields #46 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: Josh Fields #46 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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The Dodgers bullpen continues to be a work in progress for Manager Dave Roberts.  While the roles are still being determined, it’s beginning to become clear that Josh Fields is the primary setup man to Kenley Jansen.

The Dodgers bullpen remains the primary Achilles heel for the 2018 Dodgers.  While the pen has pitched a lot better lately, it still is the weakest link on the team.  On Saturday, the Dodgers bullpen was charged with the loss to the last-place San Diego Padres.  One of the bright spots in the bullpen has been Josh Fields.

Although Fields gave up a home run last night to Christian Villanueva on a hanging curveball, Fields has been the closest thing to a Brandon Morrow replacement that the Dodgers have.  On the season Josh Fields has a 2.28 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and he is only allowing batters to hit .190 against him.  After Kenley Jansen, it’s pretty clear that Fields is the next best reliever the Dodgers have.

Last Sunday Josh Fields stepped in to record a save since Jansen had saved both wins in a doubleheader the previous day.  Although the Dodgers offense broke the game open some more, the fact that Dave Roberts handed the ball to Josh Fields in a save situation tells us that Roberts has the most faith in Fields if Jansen is unavailable.  Although the choice might have been different if the Nationals had a few left-handed hitters at the plate, the primary right-handed option is going to be Fields.

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Fields has been very effective against both left-handed and right-handed batters this season.  Lefties are hitting .188 against Josh, with a nearly identical .192 average allowed to right-handed hitters.  Fields has been even harder to hit when there are runners in scoring position.  Opposing batters are hitting exactly .100 against Josh Fields when there are runners in scoring position.  Josh has also been able to shut hitters down when he is ahead in the count as evidenced by is .103 average allowed when he is ahead in the count.

It’s nothing new that Josh Fields has been effective since he became a Dodger.  Last season Fields posted nearly identical stats to what he has done this season allowing a .194 average and a 0.96 WHIP compared to a .190 average and 0.97 WHIP.  Tony Cingrani seems to be the setup reliever if there are a few lefties coming to bat in the eighth, but if there are not any potent lefties, then Josh Fields has gotten the eighth inning call more times than not.

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If Fields continues to hold down the eighth inning for the Dodgers, then the rest of the bullpen will hopefully work itself out.  Tom Koehler could still come back from his injury and become another setup option for the Dodgers, but if he doesn’t return then, the Dodgers may need to pursue some relief help at the trade deadline.

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