Early on in the season, the Dodgers’ bullpen was being tasked with too many innings. In the last week, the rotation has helped pick up innings which has led to better bullpen performances.
In the first couple of weeks of the 2019 season, the Dodgers’ bullpen was having to pick up too many innings and as a result, their performance suffered. The bullpen was having to pitch nearly 4.5 innings a game which is exactly half of a nine-inning baseball game. Ironically, a week ago I wrote about the rotation needing to help relieve the bullpen.
Part of that was due to injuries, but now with the projected opening day rotation nearly complete, more innings are being picked up. The shortest start this week, came in Friday’s win as Ross Stripling lasted just 4 2/3 innings. In every other start this week, including Stripling’s first start last Sunday, the rotation pitched into the sixth inning in every game.
One start of eight innings by Ross, six innings by Julio Urias, seven innings in Kershaw’s return, six-plus innings for Maeda, and then last night Hyun-Jin Ryu returned from the injured list to pitch into the sixth inning. The bullpen had allowed just three runs total this week until Caleb Ferguson allowed three runs in Saturday night’s game.
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Overall the bullpen has performed much better since being asked to eat up fewer innings. Hyun-Jin Ryu in particular, has pitched into the sixth inning in each of his three starts with the one exception being the start he left early in St. Louis due to a groin injury. Clayton Kershaw’s return should help in the innings category since he pitches into the sixth inning of most games with ease.
The innings category is another area where the Dodgers will be glad that Julio Urias is now in the bullpen. While he lasted six innings in his final start before being sent to the bullpen, Julio has not yet learned to be efficient with his pitches, and he doesn’t last more than five innings in most of his starts. Walker Buehler has had the same issue but showed promise being more aggressive with his fastball in his start Wednesday against the Reds.
With Rich Hill returning after one more rehab appearance in extended spring training, the Dodgers’ will finally have their projected opening day rotation by the end of the week. Not only will this help the bullpen by keeping them fresher, but the bullpen will also get another helpful addition with Ross Stripling shifting back into a long relief role.