Dodgers’ playoff pen armed with better lefties than the 2018 club
The Dodgers’ pen will head into the postseason with plenty of questions. One area they are unquestionably better will be from the left side.
Six games are left on the Dodgers’ 2019 regular-season slate before they head into the postseason for another World Series run. One of the most questioned parts about the 2019 playoff team will be the Dodger bullpen. The one area of the bullpen that will be better than last year’s club without a doubt is the left-handed relief corps.
The 2018 Dodgers team featured Scott Alexander, Caleb Ferguson, Julio Urias, and Alex Wood for most of their postseason run. Scott Alexander was left off of the NLCS roster but he was on the NLDS and World Series roster. This year the Dodgers will have Julio Urias and Adam Kolarek as their primary left-handed relievers. Rich Hill could also be an opener or pitch out of the pen if he shows enough in the final week of the season.
Scott Alexander held left-handed batters to a .172 average last season but throughout his career, his splits have been pretty even allowing a .250 average to lefties and a .253 average to right-handed batters. In the 2018 postseason, he had an ERA of 7.71 in 2 1/3 innings with both runs allowed coming in the World Series.
Then there was Alex Wood who was thrown into the bullpen and he was awful allowing three home runs in 6 2/3 innings of postseason pitching. He pitched to an ERA of 5.40 and the opposition hit .296 against him. Outside of Urias who held a 2.84 ERA in last year’s postseason, LA’s best southpaw reliever in October was Caleb Ferguson who pitched three innings without allowing an earned run.
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The 2019 Dodgers will feature Julio Urias and Adam Kolarek as the club’s left-handed relievers in the postseason. Rich Hill could enter the mix if he pitches well although the exact role he would pitch in remains unclear. Also bolstering the pen against lefties will be Pedro Baez who has limited left-handed batters to a .181 average this season and allowed just one home run on his improved changeup.
Julio Urias is more of a known commodity this season after returning at the end of last season and it was surprising that he made the postseason roster last year. This year he has pitched in a Josh Hader type role out of the bullpen and been effective against both left and right-handed batters. Julio will most likely stay in that role with Kolarek being the lefty specialist.
Adam Kolarek was Andrew Friedman’s biggest acquisition at the trade deadline even though the move garnered little fanfare at the time. Kolarek has been extremely effective against lefties this season holding them to a .181 average. He will be counted on against top left-handed hitters the Dodgers could face such as Juan Soto and Freddie Freeman.
Most of the bullpen questions come for right-handed pitchers like Joe Kelly and Kenley Jansen. Kelly is dealing with some sort of lower-body injury and Jansen has been ineffective especially in the second half of the season. At least from the left side of things, the Dodgers’ postseason bullpen will be better equipped than the 2018 postseason team.