Can The Dodgers’ Bullpen Get Better? Will LA Make a Big Trade? New Clubhouse Leader and More | DN Mailbag
It’s an off day for your Dodgers and we’ve completed two full weeks of games… the perfect time for another edition of the DN Mailbag! To read our first one, click here!
Following a win on Wednesday, the Dodgers are 7-6 through 13 games this season, riding some highs and lows along the way. LA bats have been mostly solid to open the year but pitching, particularly the bullpen, has been questionable.
So we wanted to dive in and answer the biggest questions on the minds of fans right now. Myself along with associate editor Noah Camras (@noahcamras on Twitter) are here to field your questions! Some may be edited for clarity.
Keep an eye out for your opportunity to ask questions on our Twitter page (check the hashtag #DNmailbag), on our Facebook Group (@officialdodgersnation), or on our YouTube Community page.
Why isn’t James Outman batting 3 or 4? It should be Will Smith 3 Outman 4 or vise versa. — @jaxkaybsbl
James Outman has had an incredible start to the 2023 season. He’s shown off his power, his speed and his impressive eye at the plate, and has turned into one of the best offensive players on the team. However, let’s not forget that he has just 17 games under his belt in his MLB career. The top five in the lineup seems perfect to me right now — Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Max Muncy, J.D. Martinez — and I think Outman should slide in right after Martinez as the everyday six-hole hitter in this lineup. But unless Muncy’s non-Oracle Park struggles continue into May (which they won’t), he’s not going to be dropping in the lineup. — Noah C.
Not really a question per se, just wondering who has assumed the role of team leader in the clubhouse, now that Justin Turner has gone. Who is the hype man with no Hanser Alberto? — @scottycatt
You don’t replace a clubhouse leader like Justin Turner that easily or that quickly. The season is still young and there’s still time for new voice to emerge. That said, microphones appear to be pointing at Freddie Freeman when things are going sideways so far.
As for your hype man, the team has turned to the David Peralta “Choo Choo train” celebration coming out of spring training… but he doesn’t feel like a hype guy just yet. Give it another couple homestands before we start to see more personality.
(Feels like a club that could really use someone like Gavin Lux.) — Clint P
Is it reasonable to expect much production from Daniel Hudson when (if?) he returns? Are the early season struggles of Yency Almonte and Brusdar Graterol an aberration, or will they be an ongoing problem? — @WayDodger
Yes. It became clear early in spring training that Daniel Hudson was likely not going to be ready early in the year, as he kept suffering setbacks in his recovery. And it is fair to worry about a 36-year-old coming back from a torn ACL. However, Hudson was one of the best relievers on the team before he went down last season, and the Dodgers are being extra cautious with his return to ensure he’s a full-go when he returns. I believe he’s going to be the team’s closer when he comes back.
As for Yency Almonte and Brusdar Graterol, it’s hard to know for sure. Graterol has struggled with getting swings and misses, while Almonte hasn’t exactly looked like his dominant self from last year. But I trust in these guys because I trust in the Dodgers’ pitching coaches, and know they’ll do whatever is needed to help these guys get back on track. — Noah C.
Will they move Noah (Syndergaard) to the bullpen where he belongs? — @BruceD34172
Noah Syndergaard is not going to the bullpen, nor do I think he belongs there. People freaked out after his second start of the season in which he allowed six runs and eight hits in four innings, but did they forget about his first start of the year in which he allowed one run and four hits in six innings while striking out six?
Syndergaard is going to be more than fine this season, and continue to make a positive impact on the starting rotation. The Dodgers aren’t asking him to be a Cy Young candidate — they just need to him to be a viable No. 4 or No. 5 in the rotation (when Tony Gonsolin returns). He’s more than capable of doing just that, and probably more. — Noah C
Is this a tread water season with pitching until guys return? or is this the bullpen of 2012-2016 and praying every night? — @ryantanner
I’ve had the feeling that this team is very much hoping that they can tread water pitching wise — particularly in the bullpen — until guys like Daniel Hudson and Alex Reyes can return. Later in the season they could see more reinforcements in the form of J.P. Feyereisen or maybe even Walker Buehler but that’s a long, long way off if either happens at all.
The pessimist in me says this bullpen is very much going to be a prayer every night — just too many what if’s or more so if this guy can just do blank and this one can do blank and this one can do’s… What makes that pessimist in me feel worse is that I openly decried this as a concern multiple times on our Blue Heaven Podcast in the weeks leading up to the season. I was just hoping I would be wrong.
Shorter answer: I think we need a few more weeks to know for sure. – Clint P
Will the Dodgers consider trying to run more? — @winelouis
It honestly doesn’t feel or seem like running is going to be a big part of the Dodger game plan. For a team and front office as hell bent on finding and maximizing every possible facet of the game, the cost vs. reward might be too high for game strategists running things.
So, to your question, I really don’t think so. At least not at a level like we’re seeing with a team like the Diamondbacks. — Clint P.
Why don’t we play more small ball? Bunts, stolen bases, station to station instead of relying on homers. — Anne Fairchild Smith, (FB group)
It’s just sadly a bygone era of the game. Teams — especially the Dodgers — value “slug” and “on-base” more than manufacturing runs the ways we saw Dodgers teams do decades ago. — Clint P.
Will the Dodgers trade for big names this year, like Max Scherzer and Trea Turner? Or will they stay put and make minor trades like last year with Chris Martin and Joey Gallo? — @mitchellhopkins9331 (YouTube Community)
The magic 8 ball says ask again later. — Clint P.
I expect the Dodgers to make one “splashier” trade this year, but obviously, there’s a long way to go until the trade deadline. But at this point in the year, I see shortstop as a major concern. Do with that information what you will. — Noah C.
What are some options to improve the bullpen? Can they bring up some starters from the minors or start letting the starters go at least 7 innings instead of 6? — @pelumiomole1852 (YouTube Community)
The option the club is hoping for to improve the bullpen is the bullpen figuring it out. Over the weekend, Dave Roberts mentioned some pitchers still working through mechanical issues. Those same pitchers helped form the best bullpen in baseball a season ago.
As the season trudges along, if those guys can figure some things out and pitch reasonably OK, the club hopes to boost the relief roster internally with one or multiple guys currently on the injured list. Daniel Hudson could/should be the first but later in the year, the team is hoping Alex Reyes, J.P. Feyereisen, Blake Treinen, or possibly even Walker Buehler can provide some sort of boost to the ‘pen.
As for the starters pitching deeper into games, we should start seeing that 5 or 6 times through the rotation. — Clint P
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Regarding the bullpen woes, I have before noted my fear that the relievers did not get enough reps in before the season started—and that this was because the team didn’t play a lot of split squad games. Now I think maybe the reason for this is they have to share the spring training facility with the #hite Sox. In other words, there are not enough baseball fields at Camelback to afford a lot of split squad games for both teams. Time to build another field there?