Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen annually is an area of concern at the start of every season for president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, and this year is the first time in his tenure it’s played out as such on the field.
Last season Dodgers relief pitchers combined for the best ERA in the National League. That was part of a four-year stretch in which the Dodgers pitching staff as a whole led the Majors.
This season the group ranks 24th with a 4.66 ERA, and the bullpen is even further down at 29th — or second-to-last in baseball — with a 5.04 ERA.
When asked about the ongoing struggles of the Dodgers bullpen, Friedman said the team continues to search for answers but he is confident the unit will improve, via Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:
Added Friedman: “I’m confident that as we go guy by guy, that there’s very compelling upside stories, that when we look back a month from now it will be very different.”
Friedman, however, also noted a caveat.
“Obviously,” he said, “we have to do it.”
What makes the situation all the more perplexing is the core of the Dodgers bullpen largely remains unchanged from last season’s successful group.
But Yency Almonte, Caleb Ferguson, Brusdar Graterol and Alex Vesia have all struggled at various points this year or concurrently. Vesia’s inability to generate consistency resulted in getting optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City for nearly one month.
Only Evan Phillips, although not perfect, has largely proven immune to the season-long struggles that have befallen his bullpen mates.
How can Dodgers bullpen improve?
Some of Friedman’s confidence perhaps lies in Daniel Hudson being expected to return from the 60-day injured list for his 2023 debut within roughly the next two weeks.
Further down the line, the Dodgers could potentially receive contributions from Jimmy Nelson or Blake Treinen as well. Alex Reyes, a former All-Star closer, was ruled out from that equation after he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.
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