Depth propels Dodger pitching to the best in MLB in September

San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

All summer long, it seemed likely that once rosters expanded in September, the Dodgers would be poised to take advantage thanks to their pitching depth.

That’s exactly what has happened.

Los Angeles has played 10 games in September so far, and already the Dodgers have used seven starting pitchers. With Julio Urías pitching tonight, seven of the first 11 starts this month will have gone to pitchers (Urías, Jose De León and Brock Stewart) who began the season in the minors or to a pitcher (Rich Hill) who was acquired in exchange for minor-leaguers.

As for the 13-man bullpen, no reliever has thrown more than Joe Blanton’s 4 2/3 innings (spread over 13 days), and only one is averaging above 1.0 innings per appearance: Pedro Baez, who has 3 2/3 innings in three games. Blanton and Jesse Chavez lead Dodger relievers with 19 batters faced in the 10 games.

Even with Dave Roberts numerous visits to the mound, on only four occasions has a Dodger reliever worked back-to-back days this month: September 2-3 (Blanton and Kenley Jansen) and September 6-7 (Baez and Jansen).

The results? Dodger pitchers have a 2.15 ERA in September, with a 0.91 WHIP, 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings and a 4.4 strikeout-walk ratio (equivalent to Miami’s Jose Fernandez). Opponents are hitting .183/.250/.266 this month.

Every single one of those stats leads the Major Leagues, except for on-base percentage, which is second to Boston. No Dodger opponent has scored more than four runs in a September game so far.

And that’s with Clayton Kershaw only three innings into his comeback from a disk herniation.

Against Dodger starting pitching, opponents have an OPS of .515. Against Dodger relief pitching, opponents have an OPS of .516.

Averaging 3 1/3 innings per game in September, the bullpen’s ERA is 1.62, with a 1.05 WHIP and 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Nine Dodger relievers have ERAs of 0.00. Chavez and Casey Fien (now with Oklahoma City) each allowed a single run. Adam Liberatore and Bud Norris each have allowed two runs. That’s it.

Los Angeles is four games into a stretch of 17 games in 17 days with the postseason on the line, so individual workloads could increase. Luck could change. Someone’s going to have a bad game, maybe at a terrible moment.

But the Dodgers have set themselves up well for the stretch run, using a foundation that was laid over months, if not years.


Nice to have August in the rear view mirror, when the Dodgers RA was around 5.2, though much of this was due to playing 10 games in run-rich environments such as Coors and GABP. Almost half of RA for the month came in those ballparks.

Will be interesting if everything goes right and everyone is healthy, who the 4th starter will be in PO, and who the relievers, after Jansen and Blanton, will be.

Good point. I tried speculating on a 25 man postseason roster the other day and I only got to about 16 players that I could say were “locks” and then everything else was just speculation.

SP- Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, ??? (I think JDL gets my vote at this point)
RP- Jansen, Blanton, Liberatore, ??? (I think Dayton is making a late season push to be on that roster and Baez is probably going to be there too but that still leaves probably 2 RP spots for a total of 7)
IF- AGon, Turner, Seager, Utley, ??? (probably carry 1 or 2 more)
OF- Kendrick, Pederson, Reddick, Puig, ??? (probably carry 2 or 3 more knowing Kendrick can be an IF/OF option, maybe Kike for his versatility as IF/OF option but he hasn’t hit a lick, would love it if Toles is on there but who knows? Ethier show enough consistency by then?)
C- Ruiz and Grandal

My guesses, as of today for NLDS:
SP- Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, DeLeon
RP- Jansen, Blanton, Dayton, Baez, Urias, Chavez, Coleman and another lefty (Libartore if he turns it around/healthy, or between Howell and Avilan if not)
C- Grandal, Ruiz
IF- AGon, Utley, Turner, Seager
OF- Kendrick, Pederson, Reddick, Puig, Toles, Ethier
Uty- Hernandez

Of course Kendrick could also be labeled Utl, but think he’ll get majority of playing time in LF, maybe start at 2B against lefties. There’s also a chance that if Ethier isn’t doing anything by end of year, that Segedin makes it. Hernandez only makes it because he can back up SS and CF, I really hope Doc stay away from platooning Joc and Hernandez however and just let Joc play every game.

I think that is a fair speculation although it is interesting to note that you have 8 RP included here and they only carried 7 on last year’s NLDS squad (obviously with less health concerns with their #1 and #2 SP last year then they have this year, so maybe an extra RP is a good idea).

Last year for reference
SP- Kershaw, Greinke, Anderson, Wood
RP- Jansen, Hatcher, Howell, Avilan, Baez, Peralta, Garcia
IF- Rollins, HK47, Seager, Utley, AGon, Turner
OF- Pederson, Ethier, Crawford, Puig, Ruggiano, Kike
C- Ellis and Grandal

My guessess:
22 Clayton Kershaw
44 Rich Hill
18 Kenta Maeda
7 Julio Urias

74 Kenley Jansen
52 Pedro Baez
55 Joe Blanton
58 Jesse Chavez
67 Louis Coleman
75 Grant Dayton

9 Yasmani Grandal
51 Carlos Ruiz

23 Adrian Gonzalez
5 Corey Seager
25 Rob Segedin
10 Justin Turner
26 Chase Utley

16 Andre Ethier
14 Enrique Hernandez
47 Howie Kendrick
31 Joc Pederson
66 Yasiel Puig
11 Josh Reddick
60 Andrew Toles

Last place for another arm in the bullpen:
87 Jose De Leon
36 Adam Liberatore
48 Brock Stewart
68 Ross Stripling

Greetings from Argentina.

Roberts said today Urias won’t start in the playoffs but still could be a pen option

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