Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bullpen flaws front and center in Pittsburgh

Normally if the Dodgers score seven runs, they're going to win.  They have excellent starting pitching, and a closer with 29 saves.

The downside, however, is the back end of the bullpen.  And on Tuesday night, they showed just how shaky they are.

Josh Beckett didn't do much in his return from injury, but the trio of Paul Maholm, Jamey Wright, and Chris Perez did even worse in a 12-7 loss.  Heck, even Brandon League was bad giving up two hits in 2/3 an inning, but escaped from getting charged with a run.

The Dodgers actually had the deficit at only 8-7 entering the bottom of the eighth... and then Perez got the call.  That was already a mistake considering he entered the game with a 4.37 ERA.  He got the first out on a popup to short.

Then he walked Gregory Polanco.  And he walked Travis Snider.  And he walked Andrew McCutchen.  And to top it all off, he walked Neil Walker to force in a run.  The floodgates opened after that, as League gave up three runs that were all charged to Perez, and just like that it was 12-7.

It was an absolutely embarrassing, pathetic performance by Perez.  His ERA shot up nearly one full run to 5.35, and his WHIP is 1.42.  The guy literally walked four straight batters.  You would think he was imitating Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn early in the movie Major League, only this wasn't nearly as funny.  It was frustrating and sad.

As I tweeted out during the game, if I'm Ned Colletti, I'm releasing his sorry ass and recalling someone like Paco Rodriguez or Jose Dominguez.  Why not?  Those guys can't possibly be any worse.  The idea to bring the former closer Perez in was a good one, but it's clearly not working out.  Get rid of him!

The two long relievers, Maholm and Wright, didn't exactly do much to encourage confidence in their abilities either.  Maholm started off OK, getting four straight outs.  But with the game tied 4-4 in the sixth, he gave up consecutive leadoff singles to Russell Martin and Ike Davis.  Wright was brought in to clean up the mess, but instead made it was worse by giving up a two-run single to Polanco, an RBI single to Snider, and uncorking a wild pitch to score another, making it 8-4.

I've already stated plenty of times in the past how bad I think Maholm is, but Wright has certainly taken a turn for the worse as well.  After pitching a scoreless inning on June 29 against the Cardinals, his ERA was 2.11.  In his six appearances since then, he's given up 10 runs to raise it to 3.74.  I don't know if he's tired or what, but he's obviously not the same pitcher as he was early in the year.

Right now, the Dodgers have a good closer in Jansen who's improved his numbers over the course of the season.  J.P. Howell has been fantastic with a 1.30 ERA and 20 holds.  League still has a 2.01 ERA, even if he still doesn't pitch big innings.

After that... UGH.  That's about all I can say about some of these numbers.  Brian Wilson, Pedro Baez, and Perez all have ERA's above five.  The two long relievers aren't getting people out.  It's not like Don Mattingly can call on Jansen and Howell every night, and when he doesn't, the results aren't pretty.

Let's see what, if anything, Colletti and the Dodgers do about this.  Do they start to rev up the trade machine for bullpen help?  Do they call up some arms from the minors?  I would hope he does SOMETHING.  If he doesn't, then don't expect to see these numbers change much.

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