Who Will Be the Dodgers Closer This Season? Making Sense of Dave Roberts’ Comments
One of the biggest talking points this offseason for the Dodgers is the closer position. Last year, the team traded for longtime closer Craig Kimbrel right before the start of the season, answering the question regarding who will close games for that team. This year, though, there isn’t going to be that move. Instead, the Dodgers are firmly committed to going closer-by-committee, using a handful of guys in the 9th inning depending on matchups.
However, this week, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts spoke to the media, and did give a little more insight on who could potentially close games for the team this season. And the big hint he gave is that he’ll be using guys who have “done it before.”
“I think that the guys that will close out games for us this year,” Roberts said, “I would say that they’ve all done it before. So it’s not something that we haven’t seen before. I don’t know how that’s going to play out in each game as we go forward. So we’ll see.”
So who has “done it before,” so to speak? Let’s go in order of most career saves to least career saves, including the relievers who are starting the season on the injured list.
Which Dodgers Have Experience Closing Games?
Daniel Hudson has 32 career saves, and five of them came last season with the Dodgers (before he went down with a torn ACL in June).
Alex Reyes has 31 career saves, and 29 of them came in 2021 with the Cardinals, the last season he played when he was named an All-Star.
Brusdar Graterol has four career saves, and they all came last season with the Dodgers.
Evan Phillips has three career saves, and two of them came last season with the Dodgers
Yency Almonte has two career saves, and one of them came last season with the Dodgers.
Alex Vesia has two career saves, and one of them came last season with the Dodgers.
Caleb Ferguson has two career saves, and they were both in 2018 with the Dodgers.
Andre Jackson has two career saves, one in 2022 and one in 2021 with the Dodgers.
Phil Bickford has one career save, and it came in 2021 with the Dodgers.
So What Does This All Mean?
Okay, those are probably all the players who will be in the bullpen with an opportunity to get a save (Shelby Miller has zero in his career), so technically, per Roberts’ remarks, any of those guys could get a chance. However, I don’t expect to see Bickford in a close game in the 9th inning, and I don’t think we’ll see Ferguson, either. Also, Jackson is going to be a long reliever, so unless he gets a multi-inning save, he won’t be there to get three outs in the 9th.
After that, I could see any of the remaining guys in the 9th inning. When Hudson and Reyes return, I could see them emerging as the two most consistent options, as they have the most experience doing it. However, it’s going to be at least a few weeks until Hudson is ready, which will give a ton of guys the opportunity to make a case.
In the beginning of the season, it seems like Graterol, Phillips, Almonte and Vesia will get those opportunities, Vesia coming in when it’s a lefty-heavy matchup. Graterol and Almonte feel like the guys who are going to emerge most, as Roberts is going to want to use Phillips in the highest-leverage situations. But when Hudson and Reyes return, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take over in the 9th inning more than anyone else. And my biggest prediction is that Daniel Hudson emerges as the team’s true closer.
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