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The Dodgers Need a Better Bullpen

The Los Angeles Dodgers suffered another heartbreaking defeat in the World Series, for the second consecutive year. This time was to the hands to the Boston Red Sox with first-year ex-Dodger Alex Cora in five games.

Never in 2018, it was easy for the Dodgers even though they had the same team who had the best record in 2017. Since the Dodgers prevailed over the adversity, this team endeared themselves to their loyal fan base. However, many fans became frustrated with the running of the team. Many fans wanted the Dodgers to fire Dave Roberts after the World Series because of his handling of the bullpen.

This was unnecessary frustration directed to Roberts who had led the Dodgers to three NLCS and two World Series in three-year tenure as Dodger manager. Fans should have upset with President Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi who constructed the roster and dictate how the players should be used during the game before the contest begins.

During the World Series, Dodger fans noticed Roberts was required to lug around a large black notebook filled with computer printouts of batters’ tendencies in certain situations whereas Cora never referred to a notebook.

When I became a Dodger fan, there were no computer printouts of statistics telling a manager how to use a certain player. Managers relied on their guts and eyes to tell them what to do during a game.

No way, Tommy Lasorda would have lifted Rich Hill in Game 4 in World Series after the seventh inning since he had only one hit. This is stupid! However, this is the way modern baseball is run. Instead of relying on visible analysis on how a pitcher is performing, the manager relies on the statistician tells him. This doesn’t win championships!

After the 2017 World Series defeat, the Dodgers needed to strengthen the bullpen, which was weary during the World Series. The Dodgers didn’t. They weakened it. A mid-season acquisition of Brandon Morrow appeared in 45 games with the 2017 Dodgers with a 2.06 ERA, and he dominated the opposition with his 98-mile-per-hour fastball. Whereas Morrow was an excellent setup man for the Dodgers and if Kenley Jansen faltered Morrow could have been a closer, the Dodger front office didn’t want Morrow’s services.

Although Morrow in Chicago had an abbreviated season because of a bruised bone in an arm, he had 22 saves with a 1.47 ERA. Morrow would have been an asset in the Dodger bullpen, particularly when Jansen had his struggles caused by rushing him through spring training when his hamstring limited and his irregular heartbeat put on the disabled list.

Also, the Dodgers obtained Tony Watson from the Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 non-wavier trading deadline to give them a reliable left-handed reliever. Watson was fantastic through the stretch, playoffs, and the World Series. The Dodger front office didn’t want Watson, letting him go to the hapless San Francisco Giants. Although he didn’t have a fantastic season in San Francisco, Watson appeared in 72 games and had 32 holds with only 4 blown saves and a 2.59 ERA. Probably with a better team than the Giants, Watson would have performed better.

Unlike in 2017 when the Dodgers had the best bullpen, the Dodgers had the fifth best in the National League. The Dodger front office must upgrade the bullpen and not with rookies or pitchers with limited experience. The Tom Koehler signing was a waste. Suffering a shoulder sprain during spring training, Koehler never pitched for the Dodgers. He was an inexperienced reliever.

The Dodger front office wants to save money on their payroll. Although they have lowered their payroll from the biggest in baseball history to third biggest in the Major Leagues in 2018, the Dodgers still want to lower the payroll further. They have several ways to accomplish this, but they shouldn’t try to find the cheapest relievers.

This article was originally published on @sdmorris