Though Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol recently threw bullpen sessions and could be activated this week, it’ll be hard for the Los Angeles Dodgers to rely on them for the necessary postseason production given their injury issues this year. Same goes for Tommy Kahnle and Yency Almonte.
Craig Kimbrel is among the shakiest closers in the league. Chris Martin is 36 years old and has largely been a middle-of-the-road reliever for his career. Evan Phillips and Alex Vesia are awesome, but have very limited playoff experience.
That’s why Phil Bickford reemerging after his dreadful May-August is so crucial. Bickford obviously isn’t an eighth or ninth inning guy, but anybody that can potentially eat valuable postseason innings will be an asset for Dave Roberts in the coming weeks.
With how thin the Dodgers are in the bullpen, do Bickford’s 10.2 straight scoreless innings dating back to Aug. 27 bump him up on the totem pole as a “postseason guy”?
Phil Bickford’s reemergence can help the Dodgers in the playoffs
Since Aug. 26, Bickford has lowered his ERA from a 5.36 to a 4.37. His FIP has dipped from 4.60 to 3.78. How about 17 strikeouts in those 10.2 innings, too? Has the man found his groove in late September?!
And don’t you forget! Bickford logged SIX scoreless innings of playoff action against the Giants and Braves last year. He allowed just four hits, issued zero walks and struck out four. Half were low-leverage and half were high-leverage. Pretty good.
Perhaps some of the May-August issues could be a result of Bickford throwing too many fastballs? He’s up 5% on that pitch year over year and 4.5% down on his slider, which is how he puts batters away.
It’s possible the Dodgers were experimenting for a bit seeing if Bickford could emphasize his fastball a bit more. The key could just be the right-hander getting back to his nasty slider.
If that’s the case, expect Bickford to be a bullpen staple in the middle innings come October because of the up-in-the-air situation the Dodgers are experiencing right now.