The Liam Hendriks chase could come down to the Dodgers and Astros.
Since the dawn of time, the Los Angeles Dodgers have needed bullpen help, even as they’ve continued to play annually at a championship level, finally capturing the hardware in 2020.
For too long, postseason series have hinged on whether the Pedro Baez and Joe Kelly-led bridge to Kenley Jansen is stable enough, leaving out altogether whether Jansen, himself, can be completely trusted.
Following 2020, though, Baez will no longer be entrenched in the meaty middle of the ‘pen, and Jansen’s time might be running out as well, especially based on the way he was treated in October, a month in which he gave way to young starter Julio Urias and Blake Treinen repeatedly.
The Dodgers would be wise to spend the majority of their capital on the bullpen this offseason, instead of paying out for luxury items like, ahem, middle infielders. So far, so good, as former Brewer Corey Knebel could fill out the seventh inning tremendously.
LA seems poised to pursue the biggest possible ‘pen move, too, chasing hard after Liam Hendriks, who’s reportedly lingering around Toronto’s new spring complex on Monday.
There’s no bigger prize than Hendriks if you’re chasing reliable relief and have cash to spend.
In 2020, he dominated (37 Ks in 25.1 innings pitched), but in 2019, his last full season, he was otherworldly. Hendriks’ coming out party featured a remarkable 124 strikeouts in 85 innings, replete with a 1.80 ERA and 0.965 WHIP. Only two elite years at the MLB level after years as a journeyman, sure, but he appears to be peaking. And if you have money to aim at the bullpen, he’d be the highest-upside play.
Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the Blue Jays aren’t the only team flitting around his camp. The Astros, like flies around a freshly-banged garbage can, are buzzing all over him.
If it comes down to the ‘Stros and the Dodgers, this financial allocation just got much easier for Andrew Friedman.
As the reigning champions, there’s less pressure on LA’s front office than on any other in MLB. But there’s no reason not to patch over your problem areas, and there isn’t a quicker fix on the market than Hendriks.