The Dodgers have turned things around from their slow start, but they still have areas to address at the trading deadline next month.
We are still over a month away from the trading deadline, but it is never too early to think about it or even make a move. Waiting until the deadline is a common trend, but that does not mean the Dodgers cannot make a move anytime earlier.
Just look at the Washington Nationals and their trade for Kelvin Herrera. And the Dodgers will more than likely have to make a move to get back to the playoffs and win.
There are two areas (one central and the other to a lesser extent) that the Dodgers need to address. One is lackluster production at second base. But the thing to prioritize is trading for a reliever. On the season, the bullpen has a solid, but not good or great, 3.67 ERA, up from 3.38 last year.
Kenley Jansen’s slow start to the season has ‘inflated’ his ERA to 2.34 (from 1.32), in turn bringing up the unit’s as a whole. But at the same time, Brandon Morrow’s loss has been felt. Yes, he is on the DL again, but remember that in 45 games last year, he was stellar with a 2.06 ERA and 0.91 WHIP while striking out an elite 29.4% of batters faced.
He was LA’s version of Andrew Miller: relief ace you can bring in any situation during any inning to get you out of trouble and also get more than three outs. He was your traditional ‘setup’ man but used more progressively and allowed the luxury of still having Kenley Jansen.
Tom Koehler was supposed to be his replacement but has been battling an injury. In their absences, the Dodgers have turned to the likes of Yimi Garcia, Daniel Hudson, Brock Stewart, Josh Fields, and Pedro Baez (before injury) to help alleviate the loss.
Fields is the only one who has stepped his game up, continuing the quiet success he has had in Dodger blue. And Hudson, to his credit has turned things around since a slow start, having a 0.00 ERA in 9.1 innings during June.
But Garcia and Stewart look like they need to go back to Oklahoma City to sharpen things up. Garcia has done well in limiting walks, but he is allowing hits and runs all over to the tune of a 4.70 ERA in 15.1 innings. He, along with Stewart and best friend Pedro Baez, has been a liability out of the pen, and that is the last thing you want from a reliever.
You need someone you can depend on. And the Dodgers are missing a guy to complement Jansen as Morrow did. Fields has done well, but he is not as dominant as you’d like from an elite reliever, and he profiles better as the third or fourth best arm amongst your relievers.
With Kenley Jansen, Josh Fields, Scott Alexander (2.11 ERA since April 27), and potentially a good Daniel Hudson, the ingredients for a good bullpen is there. They are trending in the right direction to the point where just one or two arms can make the unit reliable again.
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However, there are shaky performers the team can afford to move on from, embodying the “addition by subtraction” narrative, while simultaneously adding on another excellent arm to have a full swing in production.
Guys like Kyle Barraclough, Blake Treinen, Brad Brach, or anyone from the Padres group of relievers, are just some guys that can be targetted and stabilize the Dodgers’ bullpen.
And another reason why bullpen needs to be prioritized over second base is that there is an upward trend with Logan Forsythe. He has been playing better since the turn of June. And even with his lack of offense, he is giving solid enough defense for his bat to be passable.
Also, Max Muncy is capable of playing second base if needed to, making LA less desperate for an upgrade at second, if Forsythe’s recent improved play is just a short phase.
A bullpen upgrade is more urgent if the Dodgers want to continue to play well and make the playoffs. One arm would be good. Multiple? Perfect. If we have learned anything over the years, a strong bullpen goes a long way.