Coming off a season in which their bullpen was an Achilles heel, the Los Angeles Dodgers hoped to have better success with a new group of relievers in 2015. While there have been bright moments, the bullpen has taken its share of lumps as well.
As the Dodgers have pushed closer to clinching a third consecutive National League West division title, the bullpen has been buoyed by strong performances recently. The upswing is one Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi believes is common for a bullpen and is confident in the group moving forward, according to ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
With a bullpen, it’s about trajectory and where they’re heading as much as where they have been, so we’re kind of looking forward with this group and think the guys are sort of figuring it out,” Zaidi said.
Zaidi attributed part of the early-season struggles to relievers being too dependent on their fastball:
We have a pretty young group and guys that were pretty fastball-centric in terms of their mixes,” Zaidi said. “Early on, I think, they had the ability to just throw the ball by people. When the league caught on to it, they had to make the adjustments.”
That’s particularly held true for Chris Hatcher, who’s improvement as the season has wore on is tying to better mixing his pitches. He’s posted a 1.26 ERA since his first appearance off the disabled list Aug. 15 and struck out 18 to four walks over 14.1 innings pitched.
Yimi Garcia has also improved, stringing together six consecutive scoreless outings since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City in September. With Hatcher and Garcia among the relievers pitching well, getting the ball to Kenley Jansen no longer appears to be such a nerve-wracking task.