Archive for the ‘ Bullpen ’ Category

Increased innings for Dodger bullpen: Oddity or trend?

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-12-50-32-pm

By Cary Osborne

The Dodgers took relief to an extreme in 2016, with their bullpen pitching the sixth-most innings in baseball history. They were also the rare team that was successful while so reliant on their relievers.

During the Dodgers’ season-ending press conference October 24, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the bullpen usage was a result of a number of factors, including innings limits on some pitchers and an exorbitant amount of injuries. Basically the Dodgers’ 606 pitching changes were made out of necessity.

“I think our bullpen was a strength,” Friedman said. “It was really deep, and we had some things going on in the rotation — it was all about Doc (Dave Roberts) and Honey (Rick Honeycutt) just trying to win games. … We weren’t trying to start a trend, but we’ve seen (bullpen usage) evolve a little bit over the last 20 years, obviously that ties in some to starting pitching.

“Is it possible 10-15-20 years from now it will look dramatically different than now? Sure, but we’re not trying to set that trend right now. We’re just trying to win.”

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Dodgers will attack NLDS Game 5 inning by inning

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Rich Hill (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

What’s the ideal scenario for the Dodgers at Washington tonight in the deciding game of the National League Division Series?

Pretty simply: An early lead, six or seven combined innings from Rich Hill (officially announced as today’s starting pitcher) and Julio Urías, and matchups from the set-up men before Kenley Jansen sends Los Angeles to Wrigley Field.

It’s hardly implausible, given that the Dodgers scored four runs in the first three innings against Nationals starter Max Scherzer in Game 1. Then there’s the potential of Hill and Urías.

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Bullpen usage key in decision to start Kershaw

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Nationals
Trea Turner, CF
Bryce Harper, RF
Jayson Werth, LF
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
Danny Espinosa, SS
Pedro Severino, C
Joe Ross, P
Dodgers
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Josh Reddick, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andrew Toles, LF
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Two critical factors in favor of Julio Urías starting today’s Game 4 of the National League Division Series fell away Monday.

No. 1 was that the Dodgers lost, making today’s game an elimination game. No. 2 was that the Dodger bullpen, already on its heels after Saturday’s postponement and Sunday’s 3 2/3 innings, was forced to throw 131 pitches Monday after Kenta Maeda’s fourth-inning exit.

Whatever you might speculate about Clayton Kershaw’s durability at this point, his typical outing is longer than a typical outing for the 20-year-old Urías. With that in mind, the Dodgers decided to put their best pitcher out there today.

One whom, it must be added, has actually thrived on three days’ rest, with a 1.89 ERA in 19 such innings over three starts.

“With Clayton, we had complete certainty from the training staff (and) doctors that health wasn’t a factor,” Dave Roberts said. “Obviously, it’s a game we need to win. One, Clayton gives us the best chance to win, and two, he gives us the best chance to go deeper into a game.”

Basically, the Dodgers need to play 18 innings of winning baseball over the next three days. The Dodgers will start attacking those innings with Kershaw, and then use the remaining 10 pitchers on their staff (except, one supposes, for Kenta Maeda) to cover the rest.

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Roberts went for early knockout with Jansen

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Cary Osborne

With all the second-guessing and debates already in this postseason about back-end bullpen usage (re: Zach Britton, Jeurys Familia and Andrew Miller), Dave Roberts didn’t shy away from risk.

In the eighth inning, the Dodger manager moved aggressively, asking Kenley Jansen to get five outs and protect the Dodgers’ 4-3 lead — only the third time in his career Jansen had been asked to get five outs and the first time in his 11 postseason appearances. And it worked.

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Dodgers ride homers, bullpen to NLDS Game 1 triumph

kershaw-pitching

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Clayton Kershaw didn’t have his best stuff, not by a longshot. But he had some of his best guile, some his best perseverance and all of his best bullpen.

With four Dodger relievers throwing four shutout innings, the Dodgers survived a nail-biting, seat-squirming Game 1 in the National League Division Series, edging the Washington Nationals, 4-3.

Kershaw lasted five innings, punching out seven batters but bobbing and weaving through three runs on nine baserunners. Joe Blanton, Grant Dayton, Pedro Báez and Kenley Jansen worked the back end, to make a Dodger offense led by homers by Corey Seager and Justin Turner stand up.

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Dodger bullpen runs deep heading into NLDS

Kenley Jansen and Joe Blanton (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Kenley Jansen and Joe Blanton (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodgers
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Josh Reddick, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andrew Toles, LF
Clayton Kershaw, P
Nationals
Trea Turner, CF
Bryce Harper, RF
Jayson Werth, LF
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
Danny Espinosa, SS
Pedro Severino, C
Max Scherzer P

By Jon Weisman

Any Dodger game that starts with Clayton Kershaw on the mound ideally ends with Clayton Kershaw on the mound.

But with seven relievers who have performed strongly down the stretch, the Dodgers can be as aggressive with their playoff bullpen as they have been in years.

Of the six relievers the Dodgers would use to preserve a lead, none had a September ERA higher than 2.00, and only Joe Blanton had a September WHIP above 1.03.

Kenley Jansen, of course, is the primary candidate for the ninth inning, and if necessary could be drawn into the eighth inning. This year, Jansen entered six games in the eighth and saved five of them.

In the set-up roles, the Dodgers can mix and match righties Joe Blanton, Pedro Báez and Josh Fields with lefties Grant Dayton and Luis Avilán, with Ross Stripling held back for extra innings.

That means even if Kershaw only goes six innings, the Dodgers could go batter-to-batter against a Washington starting lineup that goes R-L-R-L-R at the top.

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The Dodgers’ bullpen vs. the past and the present

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Cary Osborne

This will be the Dodgers’ 11th trip to the postseason since 1988. Of those 11 teams, six have had a bullpen ranked in MLB’s top five in ERA. This year’s Dodger bullpen is No. 1.

If the Dodger bullpen finishes the season where it’s at today, it will be the third time that they’ve been the No. 1 relief crew in the game.

Only two teams since 1988 have held that distinction and won the World Series — the ’88 Dodgers and the ’89 Oakland A’s. The Dodgers were tops in 2009, but lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series. That Dodger bullpen allowed 14 earned runs in 21 NLCS innings.

Here’s how Dodger bullpens have performed in the regular season vs. the smaller sample size and higher stakes of the postseason:

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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.

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Dodgers have baker’s dozen in bullpen — and counting

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 5:10 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Josh Reddick, RF
Howie Kendrick, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
Kenta Maeda, P

By Jon Weisman

Luis Avilan has been recalled for the third consecutive month by the Dodgers, boosting the current relief corps to 13.

Behind this week’s scheduled starting rotation of Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart against Arizona and Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Maeda at Miami, the Dodgers have the following in the bullpen:

Right-handed pitchers (9): Pedro Baez (expected to be recalled Tuesday), Joe Blanton, Jesse Chavez, Louis Coleman, Josh Fields, Casey Fien, Kenley Jansen, Bud Norris, Josh Ravin

Left-handed pitchers (5): Luis Avilan, Grant Dayton, J.P. Howell, Adam Liberatore, Julio Urias.

Having neared his workload limit, Urias has been shifted to the bullpen, though the Dodgers haven’t definitely said he won’t make another start. Jose De Leon, who made his debut Sunday, doesn’t have an obvious next date to take the mound.

Following a bullpen session today, Alex Wood is scheduled for a short simulated game soon. Out since May, Wood is expected to return in a short relief role later this month.

Pedro Baez’s practically perfect July

Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals

Rays at Dodgers, 12:10 p.m.
Howie Kendrick, LF
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Adrián González, 1B
Chris Taylor, 2B
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Brandon McCarthy, P

By Jon Weisman

It might be easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than to convince a Dodger fan that Pedro Baez is pitching well.

Making the case that Baez has been extraordinary? Oh, dear — heaven forfend.

But the facts speak for themselves. In July, Baez has faced 39 batters. Three have reached base, on a double and two walks. More than 30 percent of the 39 have struck out.

Baez has allowed a .077 on-base percentage and .054 slugging percentage this month. He has stranded all five runners he has inherited. His ERA is 0.00.

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