The Dodger bullpen will look similar to the last half of the season. Since Jonathan Broxton has moved on and signed with the Kansas City Royals, Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen will most likely be in the high stake stuational and closer roles. Matt Guerrier, who signed a 3-year contract last year, can hopefully improve on his so-so season last year. Colletti is still talking with Mike MacDougal‘s agent, and Dougie will most likely return after winning a spot in the bullpen after being invited as a non-roster signee last Spring. Blake Hawksworth will return for middle and long relief, but hopefully his hip problems have improved since his second half was unsuccessful. One of the last couple of spots will most likely go to a lefty, and since Hong-Chih Kuo was non-tendered recently, we may be seeing Scott Elbert or perhaps someone like Ledezma getting the nod. Ronald Belisario has supposedly secured a 5-year VISA and will be at Spring Training, but he must serve a 25-game suspension for a drug policy issue. Josh Lindblom showed some nice stuff towards the end of last season as well.
Let’s take a look at how the Dodger bullpen might shape out to be for 2012.
Javy Guerra stepped up last season when Jonathan Broxton was blowing games and eventually landed on the DL for the rest of his final season as a Dodger. Javy picked up 21 saves in only 46.2 innings of work. Guerra will likely be returning as the Dodger closer this season. Although he has been impressive Kenley Jansen will be biting at his heels…
Kenley Jansen, the converted catcher from Curucao, dazzled Dodger fans with his dominating fastball. Jansen has already collected 137 strikeouts in a mere 80.2 inngs of work in his Major League career. He set a new MLB record by striking out 16.10 batters per 9 innings last season. Jansen has the stuff to be a domintating closer, and we’ll look for this fireballer to join the ranks of elite relievers if he can pick up and continue from his breakthrough performance last season.
Originally a Twin, Matt Guerrier will be back in his second of three years with the Dodgers. Guerrier was mediocre last season, so let’s hope that he can earn that pricey contract he garnered. Guerrier is a middle relief or set-up guy, so we’ll be looking for him to keep the game under control for Jansen and Guerra. He’s the most experienced of the bunch with over 500 innings of work under his belt.
Blake Hawksworth was a nice pickup after we finally got rid of Ryan “TOOTBLAN” Theriot. Even if Hawk had contributed nothing to the season, it would still be a good trade. Hawk, who used to be a starter, can come in and eat innings if neccessary in long relief. He throws a fastball, cutter, change, and curveball. In the second half of the season he struggled due to a nagging hip injury that landed him on the DL for several weeks last season. If he stays healthy and en pointe, Hawk should have a decent year out of the pen.
Mike Mac Dougal
Dougie is still in talks with Ned Colletti this offseason, but we expect him to be resigned after a solid year with the Dodgers. Dougie made the team after being a non-roster invite last Spring Training. He has a very good fastball that is clocked at between 95-98 mph, a slider, curveball, and occasional changeup. Last season Mike pitched in 69 games with the Dodgers and finished with a record of 3-1 and a had team leading 2.05 ERA.
The weakness of the Dodger bullpen is their lack of left handed pitching. This means that Scott Elbert has a good chance of making the team. Hong-Chih Kuo was non-tendered, and we’re not sure if he’s going to decide to continue playing baseball or not. In 2009 Scott was named the Dodgers Minor League Pitcher of the Year. We will definatley need a left-handed specialist like Elbert.
The wild card in the bunch is Ronald Belisario. He claims to have obtained a VISA good for 5 years, and will be present for Spring Training. It was later revealed that Belisario must serve a 25-game suspension from a drug policy offense. Before Belisario’s drama, he had a great year with the Dodgers in 2009, but subsequent years included rehab stints and VISA issues. In 2011 Belisario didn’t even make it out of his home country of Venezuela at all. Supposedly he was still pitching decently in Venezuela this winter. The Dodgers will have 25 games to decide if he could bolster the pen or not.
Josh Lindblom is the most inexperienced on the list, but his short time with the Dodgers at the end of last season was very promising. The 24-year old righty has 28 strike outs in 29.2 innings, and if he wins a spot in the pen we may be in for a breakthrough rookie season from Josh. He made his MLB debut with the Dodgers on June 1, 2011 vs. the Rockies. Baseball America listed Josh as the Dodgers #8 prospect for this year.
As you can see the bullpen will be youthful next season. Ned Colletti hasn’t ruled out signing a veteran reliever this offseason as well. We will keep you updated as the bullpen is finalized for 2012. Spring Training may allow for another reliever to earn a spot like Ledezma who is a lefty.
We will continue to look at the 25 man roster for 2012 with future analysis of the outfield, catcher, and the infield.