Los Angeles Dodgers: Projecting the Potential Playoff Bullpen
The Dodgers still have a week remaining in the regular season and the playoffs are far from a sure thing. If the Dodgers are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, here is what their bullpen may look like.
The Dodgers are going to have to make some tough cuts to trim the fat on their playoff bullpen, assuming they make it to the postseason. Last season the Dodgers went with eight relievers for their NLDS roster and it’s safe to assume that they will do the same this season. The NLDS roster is usually a little different than the NLCS and World Series rosters because most clubs use only three starters for the first round.
If the Dodgers do choose to go with eight relievers as usual, here is a breakdown on the current status of the bullpen. Unless an injury or horrible week occurs, this is what the Dodgers are currently look at:
Playoff Bullpen Locks
The Dodgers have a few locks for their bullpen and those are Kenley Jansen, Dylan Floro, Scott Alexander, Kenta Maeda, and Caleb Ferguson. Jansen is obviously a lock, and Floro and Alexander have been the Dodgers’ primary setup relievers for the majority of the second half. Kenta Maeda has pitched much better in relief lately and after last year’s stellar postseason, he is a lock for the playoff bullpen.
Caleb Ferguson is the interesting one as who saw this coming prior to the season? Ferguson has excelled in a relief role going 7-1 with a 2.23 ERA. In relief, opposing batters have hit just .236 off of Ferguson and he’s been effective against both left and right-handed hitters. The twenty-two year old is poised to be an X-factor for the Dodgers this postseason.
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After the five locks, that leaves room for three more potential relievers in the bullpen. As thing stands today, those three look like they would be Pedro Baez, Alex Wood, and Ross Stripling. Baez has long been a scapegoat for the bullpen but he has really turned it around this second half. In the last 30 games he’s pitched in, Baez has posted a 2.67 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. Wood and Stripling have struggled in the second half as starting pitchers, but both have relief experience and can provide quality innings.
The five most notable omissions for the potential playoff bullpen are Julio Urias, Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields, Ryan Madson, and John Axford. Urias has only made one appearance since being recalled and there is still a big cloud of uncertainty around him this season. Cingrani and Fields have spent far too long on the disabled list to get a fair reading of how effective they would be. Despite being critical components of last year’s playoff pen, they miss the cut this season.
Axford and Madson were supposed to be the big additions to this year’s bullpen but neither have pitched very well in Dodger blue. Axford missed several weeks with a fractured leg and has posted a 17.18 ERA as a Dodger and allowed an opponent’s average over .400. Madson has done just as bad posting an ERA of 8.53 and allowed opposing batters to hit .333 against him. Not enough Madson’s extensive playoff experience can make up for his results.