Chris Taylor: Dodgers Bullpen ‘Biggest Difference’ From Prior Teams
Victor Gonzalez, Brusdar Graterol, Jake McGee
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

In 2017, the Los Angeles Dodgers won 104 games — their most since moving from Brooklyn — and reached the World Series for the first time since 1988. That season ended in heartbreak, which became frustration with the revelation of the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal.

After struggling through much of 2018 and needing a Game 163 to win the National League West, the Dodgers returned to the World Series. But they were overwhelmed by a Boston Red Sox team that also was became the subject of a sign-stealing investigation.

L.A. roared back the following the year, winning a franchise-record 106 games, only to be eliminated in the NL Division Series by eventual champion Washington Nationals.

The Dodgers retooled their bullpen over the offseason, taking a flier on Blake Treinen, and ultimately benefitting from the Red Sox having concerns with Brusdar Graterol’s medicals. The reworked trade netted Mookie Betts, Graterol, David Price and Luke Raley.

Graterol and Treinen have been part of a stellar Dodgers bullpen that has also seen improvement from Kenley Jansen, and the likes of Caleb Ferguson, Dylan Floro, Jake McGee, Dennis Santana, Victor Gonzalez and others emerge as key contributors.

At 27-10, the Dodgers are on a 117-win pace for a normal regular season. Chris Taylor, now in his fifth season with the organization, sees this year’s team as the most complete, primarily because of the bullpen.

“Definitely. I think our offense is really clicking. Obviously what we did last month, and then starting pitching has been outstanding, and the bullpen has probably been the biggest difference,” he said.

“I think that sets us apart from previous years. They’ve been lights out and I think that’s going to be huge for us come October. It’s definitely a huge advantage and comfortable feeling knowing when you get a lead you can turn to those guys and they can shut the door.

“They’ve done it time and time again this season and I think that’s a big part of why our record is what it is.”

Entering play Wednesday, the Dodgers bullpen ranks first in the NL and second overall both with a 2.11 ERA and 15 wins, first in WHIP (0.99) and first in batting average against (.191).

The Dodgers have leaned heavily on their group of relief pitchers as Dustin May and Julio Urias each struggled to consistently provide length. Manager Dave Roberts nonetheless recently said he was pleased with how the team managed workloads through the first month of the season.

Taylor carries offense

While Taylor sung the praises of the Dodgers bullpen, he had a game-high four RBI in the win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. His contributions were all the more valuable considering Cody Bellinger was held out due to a minor right lat injury and Justin Turner had been placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained left hamstring.

“Obviously we’d love to have those guys in there, but I think as a team our approach stays the same,” Taylor said. “We’re trying to make the pitcher work, get him in the zone and take advantage of his mistakes. I think with Young we did a good job of making him throw strikes.

“He likes to work down in the zone and mix all his pitches. He gets a lot of chase, and I thought we did a pretty good job of sometimes getting in advantage counts and taking advantage when he had to throw strikes.”

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