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Dodgers Whiff on Deadline Day

August 1st, 2019 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Anyone who has watched the 2019 Dodgers for a half-dozen games already knows what is going to keep this team from its first World Series championship since 1988.

The bullpen.

Yesterday, the club had its last chance to address the problem under the new trade deadline of July 31 … and chose not to. “We’re good, thanks” is what they said, in effect. “We’ll roll with the guys we’ve got.”

Or, the exact same attitude they carried into the World Series in 2017 and 2018, which they lost in seven and five games, respectively.

A number commonly cited over the past week suggests that the bullpen was responsible for five World Series game defeats in the past two seasons. (It just seems like it was six or seven.)

Get ready for more October meltdowns — if one of the richest clubs in baseball gets that far.

Quick, name four guys in the Dodgers bullpen. (We will give credit if you name the one or two guys who might currently be flying between Los Angeles and the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City.)

Well, Kenley Jansen. Of course.

And then …

Hmmm. Wait …

Kelly Someone? Or Someone Kelly? Pedro Baez? Is he still around? Julio Urias must count, right? He’s throwing more from the bullpen than as a starter.

So there you go — Jansen, Joe (it turns out) Kelly, Baez and Urias.

And the Dodgers are ready to go to war with those guys against the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees, right?

Sadly, not. Most certainly not.

The Dodgers had a chance to do something about this … this notion of trying to match their postseason run with suddenly useful relievers. It must be a metrics thing: “Studies show it is not worth the money to buy ‘star’ relievers when you can pick up a dozen of them at the five-and-dime.”

Well, recent series suggest that under-powered pens have kept Dodgers fans waiting for another championship, and they could have added a recognized relief star before the roster deadline yesterday … and chose not to.

They could have gone all-in for Felipe Vazquez of the Pirates, who has 21 saves this season and zero blown saves. Or they could have pushed for the Mets reliever Edwin Diaz, who saved 57 games for a bad Seattle club a year ago.

Getting either one of those guys apparently would have cost them one or two of their top prospects, infielder Gavin Lux and pitcher Dustin May. And the Dodgers don’t send away inexpensive prospects who could be starting in a year or two.

So, they did nothing. Unless you consider journeyman left-hander Adam Kolarek (whom the Dodgers traded for before the 2019 deadline) “something”. And not many do.

So, there go the Dodgers, a club headed for 100 victories and another painful bullpen-fueled postseason defeat.

To get on the record, here are the other relievers on the current 40-man roster: Dylan Floro, Yimi Garcia, Casey Stadler, Caleb Ferguson, J.T. Chargois, Scott Alexander, Jaime Schultz, Dennis Santana, Josh Sborz, Tony Gonsolin and Yadier Alvarez.

Several of those poor saps likely will be facing down a slugger from the American League a few months from now, and how confident are you that the Dodgers will win most of those showdowns?

Does it make fans feel better that starters Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling may well be working out of the bullpen, in the postseason? Well, yes, it does help, because Maeda seems more formidable out of the pen, and so does Stripling.

But we cannot leave without noting the elephant in the bullpen: That Kenley Jansen is not the shutdown closer he was a few years ago. Didn’t want to get that too high, and depress everyone, but those who have been watching know Kenley is hittable.

So, our near-lock postseason scenario? The Dodgers don’t score seven or eight runs a game, as they seem to do during the regular season, and in a tight game their mix-and-match bullpen is bested by the the other team’s guys and, sure, if it doesn’t depress you too much, you can start counting down to another NL West championship and another bullpen implosion when it matters most. It is what this team does.


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