Sunday, May 17, 2015

For the bullpen: a bad week, or sign of things to come?

For the fourth straight game, the Dodgers' bullpen, which started off the year a house of fire and drew appropriate praise, was knocked around.  This time it was Sergio Santos looking lost, as the Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the seventh and quickly turned it into a 7-1 victory.

There wasn't a whole lot he did right, other than giving the Dodgers two innings of work, which I guess rested some guys.  Notice I'm really digging for the silver lining.  The Dodgers stood at 22-10 after a Tuesday shellacking of the Marlins, but have dropped three of four since. 

Here's how some of the shoddy performances in the 'pen looked in those four games:

* Wednesday vs. Marlins: Adam Liberatore (0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, couldn't hold the lead)
* Thursday vs. Rockies: Yimi Garcia (1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, Blown Save)
* Friday vs. Rockies: Paco Rodriguez (0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, couldn't strand Clayton Kershaw's runners)
* Saturday vs. Rockies: Sergio Santos (2 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, turned a 1-0 deficit into a 7-0 hole), Rodriguez (1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER)

Probably most frustrating is that in four games, four different guys were responsible for giving up runs.  It wasn't like it was just one guy, it was a collection of bad pitching.  And that list doesn't even include Chris Hatcher, who has a 6.00 ERA in 16 appearances.

Look, there's no way to expect a bullpen to continually be perfect game after game.  There's a couple of things working against them to go along with that: most arms are young and unproven, and the starters are banged up and not pitching deep into games.  Even Kershaw and Zack Greinke were at the 100-pitch mark after six innings, which is way too many for them.

So, it's understandable for those of you saying that the 'pen is overworked, and therefore regression is expected.  I somewhat buy into that, but not totally.  All of the guys listed above gave up runs right off the bat when they were fresh.  Santos surrendered two and then three runs, so he was all over the map.  The bottom line is that they were bad, no matter how you slice it.

The good news is that Kenley Jansen is back, and boy was he in his prime form on Friday.  Four strikeouts in one inning, and a cutter that was thrown right down the middle, but still unhittable.  Imagine if he starts hitting corners with that thing!  Maybe he almost did too good, so we should keep in mind that he's just getting it going again, as it's like early April to him.  But he needs to close, and nobody else.

Let's also hope that Joel Peralta and even Brandon League can come back soon, as at this point, they look like much better options than guys like Santos and Hatcher.  Pedro Baez just went on the DL with a straight pectoral muscle, so keep him in mind down the line a bit.

The Sunday finale in Dodger Stadium will see Mike Bolsinger get his third start.  In his previous two starts, he's had identical lines of 5 2/3 innings, five hits, and one run, good for a 1.59 ERA.  Great stuff, but don't expect him to go seven or eight innings unless a lot is going right.  The bullpen will be needed again, so let's see who steps up and delivers.

Because if they don't, then to answer the question in the title, it might be a sign of things to come.

1 comment:

Jerry Salim said...

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