Entering Tuesday night vs the Cincinnati Reds, the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen ranked 26th in the league in bullpen ERA (4.77), 23rd in WHIP (1.36), and 26th in opponents' batting average (.251). It's been a brutal unit.
Then, on Tuesday night, after a weak start from Tony Gonsolin, the cast of LA's relievers allowed five runs (including three in the ninth) to suffer a walk-off loss.
Sure, they could've gotten some more help from manager Dave Roberts, who opted to use Caleb Ferguson against all right-handed hitters in the ninth with his team only up three runs (and Ferguson is terrible against righties), but it's not like there's been pristine production from many others outside of Evan Phillips, Shelby Miller and Victor Gonzalez.
Ferguson's been solid, but he's almost never used in situations like this because ... then that happens. Brusdar Graterol's 1.82 ERA might look nice, but he leaves a lot to be desired with his arsenal and is terrible at fielding his position. Yency Almonte, Phil Bickford and Alex Vesia have been terrible, and others who are cameoing from time to time aren't moving the needle at all.
Guess we'll just hope for all of Blake Treinen, Daniel Hudson, Alex Reyes, JP Feyereisen, Ryan Pepiot, Walker Buehler, Jimmy Nelson and Dustin May to save this team in 2023? Because there's no way the Dodgers will be able to make up the difference at the trade deadline.
The Dodgers bullpen is a major problem, as evidenced by loss to Reds
First of all, rival evaluators don't foresee a big buyer's market this year due to the expanded playoff field and the number of tight division races. Secondly, even if it was, what the Dodgers need right now (both starting and relief pitching) is always priced at a premium.
The Dodgers are at least two starters and two relievers short. One could make the argument they are three starters and four relievers short, but that'd almost be demanding perfection. Nonetheless, the lack of heavy lifting in the offseason has the Dodgers in a precarious position and it could very well waste what was shaping up to be a promising campaign.
If only the pitching staff had its versions of James Outman, Max Muncy and JD Martinez ...
At the very least, let's maybe make Evan Phillips the closer to establish some hierarchy and avoid situations like this? It's about time Roberts does that.
But even with Phillips as the anchor, LA has a long way to go to avoid stepping on a landmine in the middle of a competitive game (or, apparently one they're leading by five runs!). Fans better hope a combination of shrewd deadline moves, bounce-backs to the mean, and recovery timetables can improve the status quo as the season progresses because Andrew Friedman will not be able to solve every issue wheeling and dealing while teams wait out their fate until Aug. 1.