Talented as the Los Angeles Dodgers were in 2014, good enough to win 94 games and a second-consecutive NL West title, there was a glaring weakness that caught up to them in the postseason.
Largely due to injuries and inconsistency, manager Don Mattingly rarely had more than one or two relievers he confidently could hand the ball to. Since taking control of the Dodgers’ front office, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi have set out to remedy the bullpen situation, among their other tasks.
Zaidi took time away from his general manager duties on Friday to answer questions on the Dodgers’ official Twitter account and had this to say about the retooled bullpen:
.@luisace82 we're constantly looking for ways to upgrade the ML roster. I like our current bullpen, though.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) February 6, 2015
Multiple relievers from last year’s team are gone as the Dodgers opted to not re-sign them; or in Brian Wilson’s case, paid to go away after a puzzling and disappointing second season with the Dodgers.
Collectively, the Dodgers’ bullpen held a 3.80 ERA last season, which was ranked 22nd in all of baseball and 12th in the National League; their .239 batting average against placed them in the middle of the pack among the 30 teams, same with their .675 OPS.
On paper, the Dodgers bullpen should be improved this season with the additions of Chris Hatcher and Joel Peralta. Additionally, young relievers Pedro Baez and Daniel Coulombe gained valuable experience last season, so too did swingman Carlos Frias.
Then there’s Kenley Jansen, who enters just his second full season as the Dodgers’ closer. Last year, Jansen converted 44 saves and now sits fifth on the franchise’s all-time saves list. With an improved middle infield and bullpen, the Dodgers are projected by PECOTA to win an MLB-best 97 games this season and their third-straight NL West title.
While Zaidi gave his vote of confidence to the bullpen, it was reported in mid-January that the Dodgers were searching for a late-inning reliever. Currently, Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano are among the free-agent options still available.