With the exception of free-agent addition Joe Kelly, the Los Angeles Dodgers are tracking to head into the 2019 season with much of the same bullpen core in place from previous years.
Kenley Jansen remains the focal point of the group, but a number of intriguing options behind him could have just as big of an impact on the club’s relief corps as well.
Among them are Tony Cingrani and Josh Fields, who both struggled to stay on the field last season. The latter, who logged all of 41 innings pitched, was sidelined from July through August with a shoulder injury.
The 33-year-old eventually returned and was able to make eight appearances in September, though he wasn’t included on any of the Dodgers’ three postseason rosters.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts nevertheless believes Fields ended his 2018 campaign on a strong note, speaking with optimism that he’ll be able to carry over that success into the upcoming season. “I think Josh finished the season throwing the ball well,” Roberts said.
“His last couple outings in September were really good. It was just at the end of the season and such a small sample when he came back healthy, to really get him on that postseason roster. But I thought health and the way he was throwing the baseball was really good at the end.”
Cingrani was even more limited last season, appearing in only 30 games while logging a total of just 22.2 innings pitched. Like Fields, a shoulder injury kept him out for the better part of June through September.
Cingrani managed to return by the end of the regular season and made just two additional appearances in the final month of play. “With Tony, he wasn’t right,” Roberts noted. “I think from the beginning of spring last year, he put himself behind and got off to a slow start. Then the health sort of bled into his season.
“Right now, he looks really good. Strong mechanically and physically. We’re going to take our time with Tony and just understand we still have a lot of time.”
Roberts is hopeful that Cingrani will be able to get the necessary work in this spring to potentially be included on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster. “Absolutely, and that’s certainly the goal,” he said.
“With relievers, and Tony right now we see as a one-inning guy, the potential to get nine or 10 appearances is still very attainable.”