The Dodgers bullpen has been absolutely horrendous this season. That’s no real secret. They rank 27th in the league with-0.7 fWAR accrued. Endless uproar about how to fix it, from SCRAPPING IT AND STARTING OVER, to patience because everything is going to work itself out. The answer probably lies somewhere in-between. It’s difficult when the bullpen struggles, because that’s the easiest way to envision a game on the line, is the bullpen. One run game, and you have to go 3 innings without giving up a run? That’s difficult because relievers are relievers for a reason, otherwise they’d be starting, and if just one reliever has an off inning, the entire game is ruined and the final outcome of any given blown game can range anywhere from a brutal loss in which you outplayed the opponent for 8 of the 9 innings, and still lose, walk off/ go ahead hit in which your offense bails your bullpen out, to an extra inning loss in which your bullpen throws a ton of pitches and the loss is extra deflating (there have been a lot of those this season).
So the bullpen is of great importance, obviously. And when it’s not good, we look for things to fix, I have my suggestions and i’ll lay them out here. It’s important to note, that lots of these things wont get done, but they should.
Put Brian Wilson On The Disabled List
This seems kinda obvious, right? “Player just comes off the disabled list, he shows an inability to get hitters out, can’t locate his pitches”. You have to wonder whether he’s physically right. At some point, he’s not fine no matter what the player says. Athletes would say anything to go back out there and “help their team win”. Which is ironic because injured athletes aren’t anywhere near as good as healthy ones. Put him on the disabled list, if the issue is mental, then you hope time fixes the problem, if the issue is physical, some time off can’t hurt him, it’s unfortunate Brian Wilson is a pumpkin right now, and the best course of action is to stop pitching him, giving him 15 days to recuperate is something that should get done. Regardless, you can’t carry a reliever who has been worth more than half a win of negative value in 13.1 INNINGS, especially when he hasn’t been the only problem.
The Roster Move: DL Wilson, Promote Yimi Garcia
DFA Paul Maholm
Paul Maholm is not a major league pitcher at this point. Andrew Grant at TBLA had an excellent post on this. At some point, he’s a lost cause (that point is probably right now), but don’t worr, reports are indicating that he will pitch out of the bullpen
— Alanna Rizzo (@alannarizzo) May 18, 2014
Sigh. It’s just not feasible. You can’t carry a starter turned reliever in the bullpen, most times. Especially if that pitcher owns a 6.47 FIP and a 5.0% swinging strike percentage, being worth an impressive -1.0 fWAR in the 40 innings he’s managed to pitch. Yes, Chris Withrow has his warts, he hasn’t a clue where the ball is going when it leaves his hand, but he has swing and miss potential, and has shown it at the big league level. At worst he’s a replacement level reliever who can get you a big strikeout, and we all know the upside Withrow carries. That’s a hell of a lot better than Maholm right now.So to paraphrase Grant, the point a low risk signing isn’t low risk at all is when you realize he’s garbage, but still carry him for “depth purposes”. This DFA won’t happen right now, but it should.
The Roster Move: DFA Paul Maholm, Promote Paco Rodriguez, make him the setup man
Make Brandon League The 7th Inning Man
This is insane. We could talk about all the great things Brandon League has accomplished this season. He’s somehow done this. It’s an incredible bounceback season, and one that I saw coming, and then didn’t. Regardless, the Dodgers need someone to get 3 out of the last 9 outs of a game. Kenley Jansen has the 9th inning on lockdown. So by default, Brandon League probably pitches the 7th inning because of how good he’s been. His 2.64 FIP and 2.33 SIERA have been stellar. I personally don’t think this hot streak will last, last time he had an acceptable streak, he was given a 3 year deal and came back with one of the most miserable seasons in LA Dodger relief pitcher history. But right now Brandon League should be the 7th inning man, plus he’s probably due to give up some hard contact at some point, how well he limits those home runs will be interesting, but you can’t really argue with what he’s done right now.
There’s the extent of it. Jamey Wright has been mediocre, but he’s not the problem. J.P. Howell and his 2.81 FIP work. Chris Withrow should be on the team, but not in a high leverage situation just yet. You probably have to give Chris Perez another month before you shoot him into the sun, but he’s awful. You can’t just give up on everybody, but there are some moves that need to be done, Paul Maholm getting sent off in favor of Paco Rodriguez, Brandon League being a 7th inning man, and Brian Wilson getting DL’d in favor of Yimi Garcia is a start. What I like about this situation is you still have young depth in the minors with Jarret Martin, and the exciting Pedro Baez as guys you could call up if Chris Perez continues his slow deterioration towards ineffectiveness, or J.P. Howell‘s shoulder explodes, or Jamey Wright fully succumbs to old-age-pitcheritis.
So these are some moves that I’d like to see get done.
They won’t happen, we’re going to see the team stick with their love affair to depth, and better, younger, higher upside players like Paco Rodriguez, Yimi Garcia are going to rot away in the minors. I suppose it happens, but it’s not a good situation. Depth is good, as long as the players you have are good.