At various points throughout the 2021 season, the Dodgers likely thought they’d be getting at least one of the three internal bullpen replacements they’d saved room for.
As the campaign concludes, though, it’s now become clear they’re going to wrap up without any member of the trio making a return to action.
Will their ‘pen be an achilles heel during a (hopefully) long bullpen run? Will they need reinforcements by Game 4 of a potential NLCS? Or will Kenley Jansen, in his walk year, be able to hold up and reinforce the back end?
The Dodgers wouldn’t be in their current advantageous position without surprise contributors like Phil Bickford and Mitch White, but there’s also no predicting whether those standouts will continue to look like valuable pitchers as October progresses.
An infusion of trustworthy veterans would’ve been ideal, and the Dodgers tried to time a wave of those comebacks in an effort to supplement their current corps. Unfortunately, neither Scott Alexander nor Tommy Kahnle will be back to change the playoff picture.
Doesn’t feel good.
The Dodgers won’t be getting Scott Alexander or Tommy Kahnle back.
Alexander, who disappeared on May 1, made a brief return to the diamond for two weeks at the start of July before once again hitting the IL while battling shoulder inflammation. Not the flashiest name in LA’s bullpen by any means, the team has certainly missed him more than they realize in 2021, considering he’s never posted an ERA above 3.68 during parts of four seasons with the team.
Prior to the season starting, Alexander was surprisingly brought back after appearing on everyone’s non-tender list; Andrew Friedman worked out an unexpected one-year deal. Unfortunately, there has been very little benefit as a result of that under-the-radar move.
As for Kahnle, LA’s braintrust was banking on him being a turbo healer from Tommy John surgery, a procedure he underwent in Aug. 2020 with the New York Yankees. That always seemed like a desperation heave, and it seems it’ll come up short this autumn.
This is not even to mention that Danny Duffy, acquired at the trade deadline, will end up remaining on the shelf all season long. After making an offseason bet on Kahnle’s potential resurgence, the Dodgers doubled down at the tail end of July, and appear to have come up empty twice for 2021’s sake.
If the Dodgers are going to survive October, they’ll be doing so with the slapdash bullpen they’ve constructed, without any reinforcements.
Or they can just slug their way to glory and hope the rotation can go seven or eight strong every time out. That also works.