The All-Star Break came at a perfect time for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Sure, the Dodgers entered the four-day break winning three of their last four contests, which included a 22-1 drubbing of the hapless Diamondbacks this weekend. They also trailed San Francisco (winners of four straight) by just two games in the NL West.
There are plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about Los Angeles heading into the second half. However, their bullpen has been absolutely overtaxed in the month of July.
In fact, according to Eric Stephen of SB Nation, Dodgers relievers have almost pitched seven (!) more innings than the starting rotation. What’s even more worrisome? Last season, with expanded rosters, LA used 15 relief pitchers in total over the 60-game sprint.
Just this last week, the Dodgers have used 13 relievers.
Needless to say, this method isn’t sustainable, and the front office must do something between now and the upcoming trade deadline to lessen the burden on the bullpen.
The Dodgers’ bullpen problems are serious and they aren’t going away.
The Dodgers obviously wouldn’t be overworking their bullpen if they weren’t losing starting pitchers left and right, so the rotation don’t deserve all of the blame. Clayton Kershaw is dealing with elbow inflammation and fans will be hoping he returns after the break. Trevor Bauer, meanwhile, would be lucky to toe the rubber again this year amid his sexual assault allegations.
Kershaw and Bauer are two of the Dodgers’ top three starters, and both were lost, at least temporarily in the former’s case, within a few days of each other. With the starting rotation hanging on by a thread, LA is going to need more outings like the one Julio Urias put together in the series finale against the Marlins on Thursday.
For context, Urias tossed seven innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits and two walks while fanning nine batters en route to picking up his 11th win of the campaign.
What the Dodgers don’t need, however, is games like Sunday. While it was great to come away with a victory over a sorry Arizona squad, Los Angeles used a whopping seven relievers to get it done. This was a nine-inning game, by the way. Tony Gonsolin was solid as the starter, but he was pulled after throwing 83 pitches (just one run allowed) in four innings of work.
Perhaps help is on the way with the deadline fast approaching, but the Dodgers also need reinforcements in the rotation and there’s only so much you can pull off with other teams likely looking for relief help.
The bottom line is that Los Angeles’ bullpen issues are far more serious than we ever thought was possible at the start of the year. While the timing of the All-Star break couldn’t have been more perfect, Dave Roberts and Co. will have plenty of questions to answer in the second half.