Could a Liam Hendriks Trade Fix Dodgers Bullpen Problem?

The Dodgers have a bullpen problem. That much has been well documented of late. Entering play on Friday, LA relievers have put together a 13-11 record with an unsightly 4.71 ERA over 63 games, the fourth-worst mark in baseball and the worst for the Dodgers in more than 60 years.

Dodger baseball and good pitching have been synonymous with each other for decades and what we’re seeing out of the bullpen this year just isn’t adding up.

Why are these pitchers so bad?

For the most part, it’s the same unit that was the best in the National League last year. Is the restriction on the shift playing that big of a role? Team ERAs are up around the league this year, but not by absurdly high margins.

It feels, at times (and we’re being generous here), like the Dodger pitching magic has run out. Dave Roberts has relied heavily on guys that were his guys a season ago that have been downright bad this year.

Here’s a sample of the biggest jumps in ERA from last year.

And, at 60-plus games into the season, we’re no longer looking at a small sample size.

Maybe, perhaps, the team is not well equipped to handle not having a defined closer. Even with as bad as Craig Kimbrel was for the Dodgers last season, he still afforded other pitchers the opportunity to settle into important roles. The innings eater roles needed during a long season. But the guys the team have on the roster at the moment are just going to get it done in the postseason.

DodgersNation.com’s Doug McKain has been on the trade for a closer train for weeks now and the guy he thinks makes the most sense for the Dodgers is White Sox All-Star Liam Hendriks. Most recently MLB insider Ken Rosenthal has caught on to the idea that Hendriks makes a bunch of sense for LA.

The 34-year-old recently returned from kicking cancer’s butt and earned his first save of the season earlier this week. Over the last two years, he’s combined for 75 saves and a 2.66 ERA for Chicago.

That would be real nice in the Dodger bullpen about now.

Hendricks would shorten the game for Dave Roberts, and in turn, take away from some of the pitching decision making that he’s struggled most with in his managerial career. Evan Phillips could settle into an 8th inning role. Guys like Brusdar Graterol and Caleb Ferguson are now throwing in the 6th and 7th innings. And you’re now less reliant on struggling pitchers in big spots.

So, will Chicago be willing to make a deal?

The White Sox are bad, but a trade might not be as easy as we all hope. Things are rough in the AL Central. And even at 8 games under .500, the Sox are only 3.5 games out of first place. It’s hard to imagine owner Jerry Reinsdorf greenlighting a firesale in the midst of a playoff hunt.

So, as great as Hendriks would be in Dodger blue, the reality of it happening are slim to none. If anything, the White Sox could be added competition in what is expected to be a weak trade deadline. For the Dodgers, the hope for improvement will come from within. There are still guys the club hopes to get back from injury this season (Daniel Hudson, Alex Reyes, J.P. Feyereisen, Blake Treinen, Dustin May, Ryan Pepiot, Walker Buehler). Any one of those guys immediately makes the pitching staff better for Doc Roberts.

However, if those guys don’t come back, the Dodgers may need to go out and overpay to pull a guy like Hendriks.

Clint Pasillas

Clint Pasillas has been writing, blogging, and podcasting about the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2008. Under Clint's leadership as the Lead Editor, Dodgers Nation has grown into one of the most read baseball sites in the world with millions of unique visitors per month. Find him online on Twitter/X or his YouTube channel!

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