Since late last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ bullpen underwent a ton of changes, seemingly signaling a new era for the unit.
First came a minor-league contract for reliever Shane Greene, who spent some time with the team in 2021 (nine games) before being released in late September. Then came a reunion with Danny Duffy, who was acquired from the Royals at the trade deadline but never threw a pitch for LA due to an arm injury.
And finally, the departure of Kenley Jansen to the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves was the exclamation point.
Was the Dodgers’ plan to add Greene and Duffy to the mix assuming Jansen was going to return? Or were they bracing for Jansen’s departure and made these moves as insurance? Honestly, either way, it’s just not good enough.
Even with Jansen as the closer and Blake Treinen as the setup man, the Dodgers weren’t in the greatest of shape. The rest of the arms below those two were inconsistent or just not up to par. Factor in Joe Kelly’s departure and it’s probably even worse than you thought.
What in the world is the Dodgers’ bullpen plan for 2022?
There are other pitchers that could be due for bounce-back seasons, such as Brusdar Graterol, Victor Gonzalez and Tony Gonsolin, but there are also others prone to regression, such as Phil Bickford, Alex Vesia and Mitch White.
On top of that, it seems the Dodgers might be relying upon a combination of Duffy (who can’t pitch until midway through the season), Greene, Tommy Kahnle and Andre Jackson to carry a brunt of the load despite those four combining for just 18.1 total innings with the team last year (Kahnle/Duffy didn’t pitch at all and Jackson made his MLB debut).
Then, it seems they’re expecting positive production from Justin Bruihl and Evan Phillips — two guys most people hadn’t even heard of until late last season (29 combined innings from them in 2021). Factor in David Price’s undefined role (if any), Dustin May’s likely midsummer return and Andrew Heaney’s likely unreliability, and this unit can be strained far quicker than we’re currently imagining.
When the Dodgers’ rotation went down in a heap with May, Trevor Bauer and Clayton Kershaw following one another, the bullpen became taxed and eventually exhausted once the playoffs arrived. It was further exacerbated by Max Scherzer’s dead arm as well as Walker Buehler’s and Julio Urías’ overuse.
So we’re sorry if we’re being harsh if we don’t think the combined production from Tyler Anderson, Daniel Hudson, Heaney, Kahnle and others isn’t going to be enough.
This narrative has played out before with much better and more recognizable names, so it’s reasonable to question what the vision is for the bullpen.