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Dodgers: Predicting the Opening Day Bullpen

The Dodgers will have the added benefit of being able to carry extra guys for the first month of the season. With the MLB and MLBPA agreeing to expand the rosters to 28, it should help to protect their arms with such a short Spring Training. 

For the moment, the Dodgers have a number of guys that could be competing for bullpen roles. A lot will depend on how the starting rotation shapes up, but there is going to be fierce competition. This week, we already did our bench predictions for Opening Day in Colorado. The team will likely carry 4-5 bats to back up position players. 

But with the staff, the expectation is that they could be carrying around 14 pitchers. Assuming that means they will have 9-10 members out in the bullpen, we jump into who we believe will be out there on Opening Day. 

Phil Bickford

Bick came out of nowhere for the Dodgers last season to make an incredible impact. He carried a 2.50 ERA in 56 appearances for Los Angeles, tallying 50.1 innings and striking out 59. If he can get anywhere close to that success this season, he will be a huge piece. 

Daniel Hudson

The Dodgers went out and got Hudson on a free-agent deal, and it should pay dividends. He strikes out a lot of guys but also gives up a lot of homeruns. His pitch mix at 35-years-old with a 97mph fastball should be huge for replacing Joe Kelly. 

Caleb Ferguson

Coming off of Tommy John surgery is never an easy task, but Ferg should be ready to roll. He really found a home in the bullpen, demonstrating his ability to get out both sides of the plate and striking out guys at a high rate.

Victor Gonzalez

A new-look Victor is looking to get back to his 2020 form. After a rocky 2021 campaign, Gonzalez came into camp in great shape and already appears to be locating his pitches better, especially down in the zone. 

Brusdar Graterol

This is going to be a big year for the Bazooka. After working on his cutter and overall pitch mix, the hope is that he can start to strike guys out more often. That would take him to the next level and make him a true leverage reliever. 

Andrew Heaney

Heaney is only here by way of not having a role in the starting rotation. A guy that the Dodgers had hoped would bounce back has not shown anything in Spring Training, and awarding him a spot in the rotation out of the gates would be a massive mistake. 

Tommy Kahnle

Kahnle is coming off of Tommy John as well and has yet to make a Spring appearance. But he could be the x-factor in this Dodgers bullpen, with the ability to strike out a whole lot of guys. Kahnle could profile as the team’s 8th inning guy should Treinen get most of the closing opportunities. 

Evan Phillips

Another guy that seemingly came out of nowhere, Phillips’ nasty pitch mix makes him a dangerous weapon for Los Angeles. He pitched 3 shutout innings during the NLCS, and they never really utilized him in leverage spots in 2021. This could be a breakout year for the righty. 

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Blake Treinen

The likely successor to Kenley Jansen, Treinen will play the biggest role in the entire bullpen. The Dodgers have hinted at going the closer by committee route, but expect Treinen to get most of the looks with his wipeout pitch mix. 

Alex Vesia

A heavy fastball and a fired-up personality have made Vesia one of the most exciting guys in this pen. If he can continue to build on things he worked on in 2021, he could be an All-Star reliever as early as this year. 

Fringe guys: David Price could find himself traded before the season even starts. But if he’s not moved, getting him into the bullpen seems to be his only option. Garrett Cleavinger could be a factor, as could Justin Bruihl.

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