Friday, April 25, 2014

The "dominant" Dodgers' bullpen... is pretty average

Oh boy.  One night after Brian Wilson completely melted down against the Phillies in a 7-3 loss, getting burned for four runs and only one out in the ninth, it's time we take a look at how exactly the Dodgers' bullpen is doing.

Let's break it down, starting with team stats, and then looking at some individual arms in the 'pen.

Team Stats:
2-7, 83 1/3 IP, 3.56 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 8 saves, 4 blown saves, 40 BB, 92 K, .235 BAA

NL Averages:
4-3, 69 IP, 3.54 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6 saves, 3 blown saves, 28 BB, 68 K, .236 BAA

Like the headline says, all things considered, the bullpen is pretty average.  Not terrible by any means, but not exactly the shutdown group of arms Ned Colletti thought he was getting.  The number that jumped out to me the most is the innings pitched, as only Arizona at 92 has more.  No surprise, both teams lost their aces (Patrick Corbin for the year, Clayton Kershaw for over a month).  The amount of walks is third in baseball.  Even with more innings, that's still way too high.  Blowing one out of every three saves isn't great, either.

Individual Stats:
Chris Withrow - 0-0, 11 1/3 IP, 0.79 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 7 BB, 16 K
J.P. Howell - 1-2, 10 IP, 0.90 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 6 BB, 11 K
Chris Perez - 0-1, 10 2/3 IP, 1.69 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 3 BB, 7 K
Jamey Wright - 1-1, 11 1/3 IP, 3.18 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 8 BB, 10 K
Paco Rodriguez - 0-0, 5 2/3 IP, 3.18 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 2 BB, 5 K
Kenley Jansen - 0-1, 13 IP, 3.46 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 5 BB, 24 K, 8 SV
Brandon League - 0-1, 10 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 3 BB, 7 K
Paul Maholm - 0-0, 2 1/3 IP, 3.86 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 0 BB, 1 K
Jose Dominguez - 0-0, 5 IP, 10.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 2 BB, 7 K
Brian Wilson - 0-2, 4 IP, 15.75 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 4 BB, 4 K

Who would've thought Wilson's name would be dead last in ERA?  He could not have possibly been any better last season, with only one run allowed in 13 2/3 innings.  Now he's just getting hit all over the place, and his location has been abysmal.  He's already spent time on the DL this season, so don't be surprised if it's right back to that soon.

Don Mattingly has recently stated that he wants to give Jansen more time off.  That's a smart thing since he leads the bullpen in innings.  But, Thursday night it was Wilson in the closer's role of keeping the scored tied in the ninth, and he flunked with flying colors.  This is why Mattingly rides his horse so much.  Even with an ERA higher than normal, with nearly twice the amount of strikeouts as innings, it's easy to see why he's used to much.

The top three names on that list should be getting more cracks in the late innings as Wilson works through whatever mechanical or physical issues he has.  Withrow has emerged as a legit power arm.  Howell continues to get batters out on both sides of the plate.  Perez looks more like the All-Star closer he was with the Indians, and not the guy who fell apart last year.

Final Verdict:
All in all, the bullpen isn't quite as bad as people may think.  It's completely understandable to be disappointed that a group of relievers making around $35 million this season are in the middle of the pack.  That type of money is dished out to ensure zeros late in games, not blown saves and big hits.

Jansen is still the clear-cut closer, as he has four straight shutout appearances of late, including seven strikeouts and no walks.  Mixing up his pitches a little more has really paid off.  Even if he was still throwing cutter after cutter, he's the best closer they have, especially with Wilson being so bad.

Instead of Wilson as the primary setup guy, I'd move Perez up to that spot, with Withrow and Howell right behind.  Perez has only given up runs in one of his 12 appearances.  If there's a big lefty to get out, then of course send in Howell.

I'd also like to see is the return of Rodriguez from Triple-A.  Right now the Dodgers have only one left-handed reliever in Howell, which is way too few.  At least give Mattingly one more option from the left side.

Once Kershaw comes back, then Maholm can be moved to the long relief role, as Wright doesn't look like he's really in that role right now.  Unless Maholm is sent packing, which wouldn't be a bad thing, quite honestly.  I just think that if anything, he can be brought in for multiple innings if necessary.

Finally, I would address League, but if the Dodgers haven't canned him yet, I doubt they ever will.  He's been better than Wilson, at least.

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