The Brewers bullpen has been getting all the attention this postseason but don’t forget about the other bullpen in the NLCS. That is the Dodgers’ bullpen that was very good in the NLDS.
The Dodgers’ opponent in the NLCS has been getting all the media coverage about how stellar the Brewers bullpen is. There is no doubt that the Brewers have a championship caliber bullpen, but the Dodgers’ bullpen has been just as good if not better than the Brewers in the postseason.
As things stand entering the league championship round of the playoffs, the Dodgers lead all playoff bullpens with a 0.84 ERA. That beats the Milwaukee bullpen that currently ranks third among playoff teams with a 1.17 ERA. The Brewers pen has allowed a .151 batting average which is lower than the Dodgers’ .179 batting average allowed, but the difference is minimal.
This year the Dodgers have a much different bullpen approach than last year’s Dodger playoff team. Last year the Dodgers had a blueprint for their pen that consisted of Kenta Maeda, Brandon Morrow, and Kenley Jansen all covering the seventh to ninth innings. This year the Dodgers are playing the hot hand and it seems to be working.
The only thing etched in stone for the Dodgers is that Kenley Jansen will close games if there is a save situation. Beyond that, Dave Roberts figures things out on the fly. Kenta Maeda is the favorite to cover the eighth inning setup role but he has not yet been permanently determined yet. Dylan Floro and Scott Alexander can also cover the seventh or eighth innings depending on the match-ups.
Pedro Baez and Ryan Madson are also fighting for key setup roles in the Dodger bullpen. Pedro Baez has been on a second half tear posting a 2.27 ERA in his last thirty games pitched. Ryan Madson had a rough regular season tenure with the Dodgers but in the Braves’ series he seemed to regain his form.
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Madson came into game four with bases loaded and one out. Madson escaped a bases loaded one out situation to keep the Dodgers down just one run and shift momentum back to their side. Madson has a long run of playoff success and he seemed to dip into the past to create some new postseason memories.
The lone run the Dodger bullpen gave up in four games of the NLDS was a solo home run to Freddie Freeman with Alex Wood pitching. That is pretty impressive considering Freeman is a top ten left-handed slugger in baseball and Alex Wood is still getting accustomed to his role in the bullpen after spending most of his regular season in the rotation.
Another improvement in the Dodger bullpen through one postseason series is a decrease in walks. The Dodger bullpen recorded eleven strikeouts in the NLDS and only one walk was issued. Walks from the bullpen tend to turn into easy runs so the Dodger bullpen needs to continue being stingy on allowing base runners.
The media will continue to talk about how the Brewer bullpen gives the Brewers the edge in the NLCS, but the Dodger bullpen is capable of matching the Milwaukee bullpen pitch for pitch. While there may be a change or two in the NLCS bullpen, the pen for the most part should be the same one the Dodgers rolled out in the NLDS.