Almost every big-league team has a closer almost every year. The Dodgers have had a closer with at least 20 saves in every full season since 1993 except 2008, when they switch closers midseason and Takashi Saito and Jonathan Broxton combined for 34 saves. Even in 2022, when the closer situation for Los Angeles was what the kids call a clusterpoop, Craig Kimbrel had 22 saves.
As of right now, L.A. doesn’t have a “closer,” and manager Dave Roberts has said they’re unlikely to go get one on the free-agent market. (And Roberts said that back when Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, and Taylor Rogers were all still on the market; there aren’t really any closers left even if they wanted to get one.)
But that doesn’t mean Los Angeles won’t have a closer; it just means that if they do, it will be someone already on the team. A lot of fans are clamoring for Evan Phillips to be named closer on the heels of his dominant 2022 season. Personally, I’d much rather have Phillips in the exact same role he was in last season, allowing Roberts to deploy him when it helps the team the most.
If the Dodgers do decide to go with a dedicated closer, I’d vote for Daniel Hudson. Hudson was outstanding in 2022, posting a 2.22 ERA in 24.1 innings before blowing out his knee and ending his season with surgery to repair a torn ACL. He has the skills to be a closer, and he also has the experience. While he’s never spent an entire season as a closer, he filled that role for the 2019 Nationals when they won the World Series, saving four games that postseason and closing out the decisive Game 7 over the Astros.
Having a set role might also work better for Hudson, who will be 36 next season and is coming off injury. He’s also had two Tommy John surgeries in his career. He might benefit from a more defined role and more predictability in when he’s going in the game.
Hudson hasn’t been dominant overall in his career, but he’s had stretches of dominance and would likely bring more consistency to the closer role than Kimbrel provided last season. It could be a win-win for him and L.A. to have him closing out games.
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