Dodgers must make this simple change before pitching troubles worsen

Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers
Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

Last year, the Dodgers were just one game above .500 in the first 23 games of the season, and largely to blame for those first 11 losses was the bullpen, which carried a 5.05 ERA and continued to limp through May despite the lineup improving to support them.

Things turned around through the summer, though, when LA picked up and rehabilitated Ryan Brasier, reacquired Joe Kelly at the deadline, and Evan Phillips found his groove.

However, those early-season struggles were certainly not something the Dodgers were looking to replicate this year, and during spring training, Dave Roberts seemed confident in the state of the 2024 bullpen, which was primed to keep them from falling into the same hole.

He had no reason to believe otherwise — the Dodgers still had Phillips and Brusdar Graterol, and they re-signed Brasier and Kelly. Blake Treinen, after a yearlong absence, also finally seemed to be ready to go.

And then Graterol and Treinen went down in spring training, and Brasier and Kelly have both been struggling through the Dodgers' first 21 games of 2024. The bullpen currently carries a 4.13 ERA, landing them at 17th in the majors.

Phillips, Alex Vesia, and Daniel Hudson have all been pulling their weight (though Vesia has gotten himself into some scary situations). Ryan Yarbrough and Michael Grove have stabilized significantly, though Grove still carries a 6.75 ERA.

Grove occupies one of the roster spots that would've been Graterol or Treinen's, but the last one has yet to be pinned down by any one reliever. The Dodgers have cycled eight different pitchers through it already this season, the only returner being No. 6 prospect Kyle Hurt, who pitched just under five innings in March before being sent back to the minors. He was recalled to the majors on Tuesday, and maybe the Dodgers should consider keeping him this time.

Dodgers could stabilize the bullpen by keeping Kyle Hurt in the majors this time around

After getting the call again, Hurt pitched two innings on Tuesday. He gave up three hits but kept them from turning into runs. This year, he's done a lot better in the majors than he has in Triple-A. He got two appearances for Oklahoma City in April, pitching four innings and giving up five hits and three earned runs.

The Dodgers have exhausted a lot of their options down there in Triple-A already and seemed unhappy with pretty much all of them but Hurt, the only one they've chosen to recall. Maybe they should consider keeping him this time, honing in and allowing him to grow in the minors instead of calling up yet another, more unpredictable arm.