Yes, I know, every Dodgers fan would love Kyle Barraclough, Felipe Vazquez or Raisel Iglesias. But do we really want to pay what the Indians did to get Brad Hand? Francisco Mejia is an extraordinarily well-regarded prospect, and to be fair, the Tribe also got solid righty Adam Cimber in the deal. But if rumors are to be believed, the Padres told the Dodgers the conversation started with Walker Buehler. Right? I know. Well, where do you think the conversation is going to start when it comes to the top remaining guys available?
I’m not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes here. The bullpen is a serious area of need for the Blue Crew. The acquisition of Manny Machado makes the Dodgers the favorite in the West, and gives them a better chance to advance in the playoffs, but we’ve seen in the Ned Colletti days what a slipshod bullpen can do to playoff aspirations. Various guys have done a servicable job building a bridge to Kenley Jansen at various times this season, including unlikely names like Daniel Hudson, Scott Alexander, and even recently, some have mentioned Caleb Ferguson as a guy who should get more high leverage opportunities. But let’s be honest, wouldn’t another reliever or two with solid track records of success be nice to have as the postseason draws near?
Fortunately, the big names like Barraclough, Vazquez and Iglesias aren’t the only ones out there. They are just the expensive ones. Here are five relief pitchers who would make great additions to the back end of our ‘pen, and wouldn’t break the prospect bank.
Seung-hwan Oh, Toronto Blue Jays: Oh is an interesting guy. The Korean righty burst onto the scene in 2016, ascending to the closer role in St. Louis before having a rough 2017 and losing that gig. He latched on with the Blue Jays and has been mostly excellent. He’s not perfect, as he gives up more home runs than you would like from a late inning reliever, but he misses bats, and that’s a trait the Dodgers could use. The peripherals mostly support his bounce-back 2018, and he doesn’t walk a lot of hitters. The Jays are out of contention, and will likely pick up the phone if someone calls. Why not us?
Fernando Rodney, Minnesota Twins: Ok, ok, before you dismiss this idea outright, hear me out for a moment. He’s been pretty good for the most part this season. And he was pretty good for the most part last season. And if you remove his catastrophic performances against the Dodgers in 2017 from the equation, he was beyond servicable for the D-backs as their closer. Look, he’s far from perfect. He’s listed at 41 years old but God knows how old he really is. He still, and always has, walked too many guys. But his heater still hits the high 90s, and he is still getting guys out better than the average bullpen arm. Admittedly, this is anectdotal, but he’s always looked a little better as a set-up guy than a closer, and he’d not have to worry about closing unless Heaven forbid something happened to Kenley. Best of all, he’d come dirt cheap. Would you really rather have Ryan Pressly? No. No you wouldn’t.
Richard Bleier, Baltimore Orioles: Flashier names like Zach Britton and Brad Brach would get more attention, but very few relievers have been as good as Bleier the last three seasons. He’s never finished a season with an ERA higher than 1.99. And to show off my math skills for a moment, that’s lower than 2! Impressive, right? I meant his pitching, not my math. There’s a red flag. He barely strikes anyone out, and after lauding the previous guys’ it’s admittedly a non-sequitur to get all giddy about Bleier. But he is a master at inducing soft contact. And if at the end of the day, getting outs is what matters most, he could be a master stroke of an addition. I have a confession though. I have no idea how highly Baltimore rates him. If I was Dan Duquette, I wouldn’t let him go cheaply, if at all. But again, what’s the hurt in picking up the phone?
Ryan Tepera, Toronto Blue Jays: Once again, we’re going way up north. Tepera is mostly unkown to casual fans but has been pretty decent since making his big league debut in 2015. As a bonus, he’s working on a career-high strikeout rate this season. If there’s a concern, it’s that Tepera has consistently outpitched his peripherals by a fairly notable margin, probably the result of a slightly elevated walk rate. That said, when you’re able to do something for four seasons, maybe it’s the peripherals that are wrong, and not the numbers on the surface. In any event, he’s not a guy that should cost a ton, and who knows? Maybe the Dodgers can swing one deal to get both he and Oh.
Craig Stammen, San Diego Padres: Don’t look now, but Stammen is suddenly good. He’s always been fairly good, but we’re really going into some lofty territory in 2018. His miniscule 1.89 FIP is among the best in baseball, and he’s doing this in spite of being on pace for a career-high in games pitched. A lot of guys suffer with increased exposure. Stammen seems to be thriving. When they traded Brad Hand to the Indians, the Padres slotted Kirby Yates into the closer role, and he’s been good as well. But that would seem to indicate the team rates Yates above Stammen, meaning he’s potentially available for less.
Did I leave anyone out? Someone else you’d like to see donning the Dodger Blue for the stretch run? Let us know on Twitter @thestainsports and @DodgersNation. Thank you for reading.
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