Dodgers offseason bullpen trades might be the main reason for early struggles

2024 Seoul Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers
2024 Seoul Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers / Masterpress/GettyImages

Only one run was on the board for the Padres -- a solo homer for Manny Machado -- when James Paxton was taken out of Sunday night's game, but he left a mess in his wake that the Dodgers bullpen was tasked with cleaning up. Even with the home run, Paxton got off easy for the first few innings of the game; his fastball wasn't finding the zone, and by the end of the fifth, he'd given up six walks, but San Diego's hitters couldn't make them count.

However, in the sixth, Paxton landed in hot water when he dealt back-to-back walks to Machado and Jurickson Profar, marking a career-high eight in a single game. He was pulled and replaced with Ryan Brasier, who promptly walked Ha-Seong Kim for the Padres' ninth walk of the night. Brasier couldn't get out of it, and by the time the frame was over, the Padres had tied things up 3-3.

JP Feyereisen got the ball in the seventh and the walks kept coming; he gave Xander Bogaerts a free base, allowed a single to Fernando Tatis Jr., and then another free pass to Jake Cronenworth with no outs. Manny Machado flew out, but then Profar cleared the bases on a double to make it a 6-3 ballgame.

By the time nine innings were played, the Dodgers' pitching staff had given up 14 walks, the most in one game since 1962.

Dodgers pitching staff make the wrong kind of history, deal 14 walks to Padres hitters during Sunday's game

Aside from Paxton's eight walks, Brasier gave up one, Feyereisen two, Alex Vesia two, and Nick Ramirez one to raise the grand total to 14. Padres runs Nos. 2 and 3 were inherited from Paxton but still have Brasier's stamp on them, and Feyereisen's three surrendered runs were all his.

It was a far from ideal appearance for Feyereisen, a player who was fighting for an Opening Day bullpen spot but was sent down to the minors instead. He was called up to fill a roster space left by either Bobby Miller or Connor Brogdon, who went onto the IL the same day, but it didn't exactly help his chances of staying up, especially with the Dodgers' willingness to cycle out bullpen arms through these first few games.

Really, Dodgers pitchers are lucky things didn't end up worse than they did. Going into Sunday's game, they were 22nd in bullpen ERA (4.64), and were far from aided by the bottom of LA's lineup, who went 0-13 and had the game's 26th-ranked batting average (.196) through Sunday's action.

There was a lot of talk about how the bullpen had improved from last season and the strength of the lineup from top to bottom, but cracks are definitely starting to show.