Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Taking Liberal Approach With Bullpen Roles
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the primary reasons the Los Angeles Dodgers have been unable to reach the World Series despite winning three straight National League West titles for the first time in franchise history is their inconsistent bullpen.

The front office has largely bypassed on addressing the bullpen issues the past two offseasons, and because of that, the same trouble has surfaced in 2016. The Dodgers bullpen currently ranks 19th in baseball with a 3.87 ERA after ranking 19th last season and 22nd in 2014.

Closer Kenley Jansen has been lights out, leading the Majors with 11 saves to go along with a 0.63 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 14.1 innings. Other than Jansen, though, the bullpen has been shaky.

Certain relievers were seemingly locked into set roles early in the season, though some of them have changed recently, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also dismissed the notion those roles are set in stone.

“[Baez] has thrown well the last couple of eighth innings. But like I’ve said all along, if there’s a spot that’s going to be a big part in the game and he’s available, then we use him then,” Roberts said.

“It’s not a hard-and-fast, ‘Petey in the eighth, Kenley in the ninth.’ Every game is different. The way [Baez] is throwing the baseball makes me feel good about putting him in any big spot. I love roles, I respect roles, and every player likes in theory to have a designated role. But when you’re trying to win a baseball game, roles are expandable.”

Baez has a 3.86 ERA in 14 innings this season, giving up 10 hits and six runs while striking out 19. He has struggled with the long ball, giving up four runs. Roberts recently stated Baez and Joe Blanton replaced Chris Hatcher as the primary eighth-inning options.

Blanton, who signed under the notion he’d be a long reliever, has been a bright spot for the Dodgers. He owns a 2.57 ERA, 4.21 FIP and 0.71 WHIP in 14 games (14 innings pitched). Even with Jansen as the club’s undisputed closer, Roberts pointed to there potentially being some variety with how the hard-throwing right-hander is utilized.

“His designated role is closer, but it doesn’t say what inning you have to pitch,” Roberts said. Of Jansen’s 11 saves this season, one is a five-out save, and another a four-out save.