Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen has been a weak spot throughout much of the 2023 season, but the group was galvanized over the past week as the team won five of six games heading into Wednesday’s matchup with the Colorado Rockies.
Though, that did include a speed bump in the series opener at Coors Field when Phil Bickford walked the bases loaded with a 5-0 lead in the ninth inning. That prompted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to call on de facto closer Evan Phillips to get the final out in their win.
After the Dodgers erased a 4-0 deficit in the second game against the Rockies, their bullpen — with Ryan Brasier, Brusdar Graterol and Phillips all unavailable — stumbled in a five-run sixth inning.
Following the 9-8 loss, Roberts gave credit to the Dodgers lineup for producing and put the onus on the bullpen to perform better even if shorthanded, via SportsNet LA:
“I thought offensively we were fantastic all night long and scored enough to win. I think it was just the sixth inning got away from us. You’re shorthanded with some leverage guys, you’ve still got to go out there with the guys you have and make pitches.”
After Michael Grove pitched five innings, Victor González entered with the Dodgers leading 6-4. He allowed the Rockies to load the bases and was removed in favor of having Nick Robertson face Jurickson Profar.
Robertson walked Profar and followed that by giving up a bases-clearing double to Ezequiel Tovar and eventually an RBI single to Elias Díaz as well. Despite the decision backfiring in a pivotal turning point, Roberts felt Robertson was the best available option when evaluating the state of the Dodgers bullpen:
“Profar is considerably better batting right-handed. You go with the matchups and who you feel is fresh. If you get Yency (Almonte), who can’t do an up-down, you’ve got to be able to cover a game. I think that’s just kind of where we were at.”
Robertson wound up pitching two innings before Phil Bickford was the final reliever the Dodgers used. Roberts pointed to Bickford’s struggles in the series opener having a lingering impact, but reiterated performance still needed to be better:
“It’s not ideal to get your closer in a game with a five-run lead the first night in. It just had an affect on tonight’s game. But the guys we had still got to go out there and make pitches.”
Even with their recent upswing, the Dodgers bullpen only ranks 26th in baseball with a 4.74 ERA.
Why was Dodgers bullpen shorthanded?
Although the Dodgers had an off day on Monday, recent usage has been somewhat of an issue for Graterol and Phillips.
Brasier, Graterol and Phillips all pitched in the series opener, partly due to Clayton Kershaw not being able to provide more than six innings because of an unspecified health issue.
That was a third consecutive game pitched for Phillipes, and Graterol had been utilized in three of the last four.
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