David Rosenthal, CBS Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — As Dodgers fans know, the team is in deep trouble whenever a member of the bullpen not named Kenley Jansen enters the game.
Why go to an amusement park when you can just watch the Dodgers bullpen?
A new virtual reality roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain is making headlines, but I prefer to watch Chris Hatcher and Pedro Baez pitch instead when I need an adrenaline and terror fix.
This season (eerily reminiscent of last year) has been an absolute disaster for Dodgers relievers, and the front office is to blame.
Many believe the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result — well this is exactly what the Dodgers are doing.
Everyone in the greater Los Angeles area knows that Chris Hatcher and Pedro Baez are not suited to be set-up men in the MLB, and the Dodgers are fools for continuing to pursue this lost cause.
The team failed to sign any big-name relief pitchers this off-season, and instead continues to have faith in the two worst set-up men in baseball: Hatcher and Baez.
This season, Hatcher (the Dodgers preferred set-up man), is 3-3 with a 6.35 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP.
In 17 innings pitched, he has surrendered 12 earned runs (13 runs), 20 hits, four home runs and 12 walks.
He’s allowed a run in seven of his 19 games pitched, which means every time he enters, there is a 36% chance he gives up at least one run.
Now let’s shift to Pedro Baez, the Dodgers other reliever used in set-up and important situations this season.
Baez has a 4.50 ERA, allowing 15 hits, 9 earned runs, four home runs and seven walks in 18 innings pitched.
The 28-year old Dominican native has allowed a run in five of his 19 appearances this season, which comes out to 26% of the time.
The Dodgers bullpen collective ERA ranks 18th in the MLB at 3.97, but that is solely because of the excellence Jansen delivers almost every time he is summoned.
Jansen has been the lone bright spot in the Dodgers bullpen for years, and its a travesty the front office has not surrounded him with the talent necessary to succeed.
The team allegedly went after Orioles reliever Darren O’Day in the off-season, but came up empty, as O’Day signed a 4-year deal worth $31 million.
This season, O’Day is one of the top relievers in the MLB yet again with a 2.76 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched. He has surrendered only five runs this year and also collected two saves.
He has a career ERA of 2.33 and would have been an invaluable piece of he Dodgers bullpen.
I will cut the front office a break, as O’Day’s wife is a reporter in the Baltimore-DC area, and he said that was a major factor in his decision to return to the Orioles.
The Dodgers also had an agreement with Aroldis Chapman, but that broke down once the Cuban left-hander was accused of domestic violence. Chapman ending up being traded to the Yankees and then receiving a 30-game suspension.
The team signed Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir for deals all worth over $8 million a year, but cannot seem to open the checkbook for a reliever?
It simply doesn’t make sense.
The front office does know Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen can’t pitch every inning, right?
It’s reached the point where the only time I have faith in the Dodgers winning a game is every fifth day when Kershaw takes the mound.
And you know why? Because I know he is going to pitch at least 8 innings or so — creating a smooth transition to Jansen by avoiding everyone else in the bullpen.
Louis Coleman has been decent, J.P. Howell has been atrocious and Joe Blanton has been, well, Joe Blanton.
When Adam Liberatore and Chin-Hui Tsao start to look like solid options out of the pen’, you know the team is in trouble.
I have nothing against any of these men, as I am sure they are all more than reputable human beings, but at the end of the day they have a job to do, and they are failing.
Let me make something clear: Dave Roberts is not to blame for the abysmal, under .500 start to the season.
The front office has given him literally nothing to work with.
I can’t imagine what goes through Roberts’ mind when deciding who to bring in.
It’s like the scene in “The Dark Knight Rises” when people are given the choice of death or exile (exile being a long walk on ice that is certain to crack).
In that same vein, Roberts is also caught between a rock and a hard place. He just can’t win unless the man he’s bringing in is named Jansen.
If the Dodgers do not make MULTIPLE moves to acquire relievers, the team is doomed.
Plain and simple.
The team has its top prospect, Julio Urias, in the midst of his best stretch in his career, and yet refuse to call him up to help shore up the dumpster fire they call a bullpen.
Instead, the team would rather watch him mow down Triple-A batters like they are little leaguers, which is fun for awhile, until your major league team’s bullpen starts to look like they themselves are the little leaguers.
Dodgers, if you are reading this, call up Urias, trade for a reliever, and watch the success come. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize what the Dodgers problem is.
It really is that simple.
David Rosenthal is a web producer for CBS Los Angeles. David lives in Los Angeles and is a Dodgers, Kings, and Lakers fan. If you have any questions or comments for him, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org