Craig Kimbrel might be gone, but does that change much of the fan opinion on the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen heading into the 2023 season? Kimbrel, Tommy Kahnle and Chris Martin departed but the team didn't exactly "replace" any of them appropriately.
Shelby Miller and Alex Reyes headlined the Dodgers' offseason additions for the bullpen, but Miller has been terrible in Spring Training while Reyes won't be ready for the start of the year. Jimmy Nelson is also back, but is anybody going to rely on him?
To make matters worse, the Dodgers have had a number of young arms emerge over the last month or so. Guys like Andre Jackson, Ryan Pepiot and Gavin Stone have put forth impressive Spring Training performances ... but there's still a lack of clarity in regard to their chances of making the Opening Day roster.
To throw in another wrench, Daniel Hudson isn't expected to be ready by March 30 after experiencing ankle tendinitis in his recovery from ACL surgery. Though this situation will improve over time, fans aren't exactly thrilled with what they heard from a Dodgers insider over the weekend.
Per Juan Toribio of MLB.com, Shelby Miller, who owns a 12.27 ERA, 2.73 WHIP and .500 opponents' batting average, is a "lock" to make the Opening Day roster. A "lock"? Where have our standards gone?!
Shelby Miller reportedly a "lock" to make Dodgers' Opening Day roster
Dodgers fans were already confused when the team gave Miller a major league contract this offseason that guaranteed him $1.5 million despite the fact the right-hander has appeared in 17 games since the start of 2020 and has been downright awful (18 earned runs on 22 hits and 14 walks across just 19.2 innings). The only positive was that he managed to strike out 22 batters.
Miller's performing in the exact same manner this spring. The lone positive about his showing is that he's fanned six batters in 3.2 innings. Outside of that and the fact he possesses a fastball-slider combo -- something the Dodgers' pitching staff has proven to utilize well among failed/underachieving relievers -- there's really nothing to like about another wildly unstable bullpen option.
There's already a lack of stability without a named/established closer (even though Evan Phillips is capable) provides enough uncertainty for most fans' liking. Now, to open the year with Miller, Phil Bickford, Caleb Ferguson, Yency Almonte and Brusdar Graterol backing Phillips and Alex Vesia?
How could the Dodgers have not done better than this? Why are they settling with guys who very much seem replaceable? We hope we're wrong, but this is as discouraging as it gets for a contending team.