What’s Wrong with the Dodgers Bullpen Right Now?

If you were looking for one potential Achilles heel for the Dodgers heading into the season, it was going to be the bullpen. There was just something that felt like it could falter if a bunch of things didn’t go right. You had a bunch of guys who sort of had career years coming back to make up the majority of the bullpen.

On top of that, there were new rules coming into play that could affect slower working pitchers like Alex Vesia and Caleb Ferguson in ways we were unsure of.

And the big one… there was no closer.

Yes, Dave Roberts entered the season without a closer. Was that it? Could the lack of a named closer have created a cascade effect down the roster with pitchers not really knowing their roles?

The easiest bandaid to throw on the bullpen struggles is “it’s still early.” Roberts has pointed out over the last few days that not everyone is in the best spot mechanically.

“We’ve talked about it,” Doc said after Saturday’s loss. “They’re working through it right now. But the league’s not gonna wait for you. So you still gotta perform while you’re trying to figure things out.”

Via SportsNet LA

Perform they are not. The Dodger bullpen is middle of the pack at best so far this season. Over 9 games and 28 innings, the relief staff has 2 losses and a 4.82 ERA, allowing 15 runs over 28 innings. They’ve combined to strike out just 21 batters, third worst in baseball.

If it makes things any better, the rest of the NL West is right there with them when it comes to general bullpen mediocrity.

All stats are entering play on Sunday.

So the problem isn’t just in the LA bullpen.

Thinking about it, it honestly feels like the new rules would or could affect relief pitchers most. Pitch clock for notoriously slower workers. Lack of defensive shifts…

But that’s hyperbole, at least for now.

The bad part for the Dodgers is there’s no help on the way, at least not yet. Of the injured pitchers closest to returning, Daniel Hudson’s surgically repaired knee isn’t cooperating with him and Jimmy Nelson is struggling to regain his pre-Tommy John form. At the minor league level, only Victor Gonzalez and Justin Bruihl are on the 40 man roster and neither are game changing options.

We might just have to weather the storm for the next few weeks and see if some of these guys can settle in and rebound. Again, it is still early… but this is something that is certainly worth raising a red flag over.

Clint Pasillas

Clint Pasillas has been writing, blogging, and podcasting about the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2008. Under Clint's leadership as the Lead Editor, Dodgers Nation has grown into one of the most read baseball sites in the world with millions of unique visitors per month. Find him online on Twitter/X or his YouTube channel!


  1. “If you were looking for one potential Achilles heel for the Dodgers heading into the season, it was going to be the bullpen.”
    What are you talking about? Everyone thought it was going to be the starting pitching or the hitting because that is where there was the most turn over. Last year the Dodgers had the 2nd best bullpen by ERA, 2nd best by FIP, 4th best by xFIP, and highest in WAR. The bullpen also had very little turnover from last season. Dodgers lost Kimbrel, Martin, and Kahnle. By far the biggest hit there was Martin because Kahnle barely played in the regular season. Dodgers added some new arms and their great young relievers like Vesia, Graterol, and Phillips had another year to mature. This was the aspect of the Dodgers that people were most confident about. The Dodgers bullpen also has a collective .337 BABIP this season, meaning they have been unlucky.
    I am sure the pitch clock is affecting them a bunch, but framing of this article is very revisionist.

  2. The bullpen stinks – simple as that – and Roberts and Freidman won’t do anything about it.

  3. Bullpen only? With a few exceptions pitching staff not getting it done. Can’t use pitch clock as an excuse
    as every team dealing with new rules. Do not see much concern from mgr. and coaches. These guys are paid well to throw a baseball ( maybe too well paid).

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