An Achilles heel for the Los Angeles Dodgers over recent seasons was a shaky bullpen that often led to Clayton Kershaw appearing in relief come October. There have been triumphs and shortcomings with that approach, and ultimately a World Series title has remained elusive.
On top of having arguably their deepest collection of position players, the Dodgers bullpen also emerged as one of the best in baseball. Their 2.74 ERA ranked first in the National League, 1.04 WHIP was best in the Majors and so too was the group’s .207 batting average against.
Caleb Ferguson, Dylan Floro, Victor Gonzalez, Brusdar Graterol, Adam Kolarek, Jake McGee and Blake Treinen were among the standouts throughout the year. Kenley Jansen also enjoyed positive stretches but still battled some inconsistencies.
For all its success during the regular season, the Dodgers bullpen has collectively experienced regression during the playoffs. It’s worth noting they are without Ferguson, who required Tommy John surgery, and postseason series are being played without off days.
Their latest stumble came in the sixth inning of Game 4, when Graterol and Gonzalez couldn’t stop the momentum the Atlanta Braves had built.
Dylan Floro then allowed a leadoff home run in the seventh McGee allowed two inherited runs to score after he entered — though that was largely on Matt Beaty inexplicably dropping a third out at first base.
“It’s a deep bullpen, it’s a talented bullpen. We’ve shown it,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after his club’s 10-2 loss. “I think you have to give credit at times to hitters. We get two strikes, they fight, they put the ball in play. If you do that, you might find some hits out there.
“When we do get ahead, we’re not finishing them with the strikeout. We’ve just got to try to continue to make pitches. They’ve still got to beat us another time. I still believe in every single guy in that clubhouse.”
The unit has a 3.83 ERA and 1.25 WHIP through nine postseason games thus far, both of which rank ninth among all teams that reached the playoffs.
Dodgers have no hesitation with May
With their season on the line Friday night, the Dodgers are starting rookie Dustin May in what will mark his fourth game and second start this postseason.
“We’ll see the length and how he’s throwing,” Roberts said. “He’s rearing to go. He knew about it [Wednesday], we had him in the dugout tonight just watching. I know he’s going to be fired up.”
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