The Dodgers continue to dominate the reliever trade market in search of bullpen help. Jansen’s latest outing sent a stern reminder that bullpen help is a necessity.
While searching for bullpen help, the Dodgers’ pen has started to piece itself together. Kenta Maeda recently threw a scoreless inning of relief, showcasing what his role will be in October. Joe Kelly has begun to look like the pitcher the Dodgers thought they were getting from Boston and Pedro Baez has been solid all year.
Maybe bullpen help is not a need after all right? Insert your favorite buzzer sound because bullpen help is a dire need for the 2019 Dodgers, and without more help, this is a team that could squander late leads in the playoffs and fail to make it back to the World Series. Kenley Jansen raised the bat signal again last night with a shaky ninth inning even though he finished off the save.
Jansen recorded two outs with a three-run lead but then the inning fell apart. A base hit, a hit batter, and then back to back walks put the game in jeopardy. Thanks to a gift strike two, Jansen eventually retired Howie Kendrick to rack up another save. In the process, he sent Andrew Friedman a stern reminder that the team needs more relief help.
While the Dodgers don’t necessarily need to remove Kenley from the closer role, they could use someone that could push him and possibly take over the role if the wheels completely fall off. While Pedro Baez and Joe Kelly are candidates to fill in, they make up the bridge to Jansen and are going to be needed in the earlier innings of playoff games.
Julio Urias is the one wildcard factor out of the bullpen but he has yet to pitch in back to back games. It would also be a waste to avoid using Urias in order to save him for a possible save or rescue of Jansen. Julio has more value pitching multiple innings out of the bullpen and filling a Josh Hader type role in the pen.
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While the Dodgers were once again linked to left-handed reliever Jake Diekman yesterday, they should also be aiming to add another reliever with closer experience such as Ken Giles or Shane Greene. The big fish in the pond is Felipe Vazquez, but the Pirates insist on the Dodgers including Keibert Ruiz and Dustin May in addition to other prospects.
Barring a sudden change in the Pirates’ demands or another elite reliever becoming available, the Dodgers may not be able to acquire any elite options that would truly push Kenley Jansen for the closer role. The club will need to monitor Jansen’s workload and realize he has limitations in this year’s postseason.
While Jansen was once the workhorse that went two-plus innings in Washington, he is no longer that kind of reliever. He proved once again in last year’s World Series that he shouldn’t be pushed beyond four outs. This year he has also proven that he shouldn’t pitch more than two days in a row.
With just a handful of days remaining before the buzzer sounds on the trade deadline, Andrew Friedman faces the tough task of providing a boost to the big league club, without giving up the main pieces of the farm system. No pressure for a team that has lost two straight World Series and gone into a thirty-one-year championship drought.