Whicker: Dodgers are up for another game of bullpen roulette

first_img Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco Even the Astros, with a bullpen that leads baseball in batting average against (.217) and WHIP (1.09), were compelled to get Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly. The actual bullpen itself becomes a mosh pit.Sign up for our Inside the Dodgers newsletter. Be the best Dodger fan you can be by getting daily intel on your favorite team. Subscribe here.The summertime total of relocated relievers reached 22 when Cody Gearrin wound up in Oakland and Xavier Cedeno migrated to Milwaukee, which recently sent Corey Knebel to the minor leagues for a tutorial. Knebel was an All-Star last year with 39 saves and led the National League in appearances with 76.There is nothing less predictable in baseball and maybe in life than the performance of a relief pitcher. The Pick 6 at Del Mar is a snap by comparison.The Cubs got Brandon Kintzler, a former All-Star, and Jesse Chavez. Chavez has been terrific, Kintzler awful. The Indians, who had one of the best bullpens last year, paid high to get Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. Hand has a WHIP of 1.140 (really good), Cimber 1.929 (the opposite).“It’s more volatile,” said Dave Roberts, the Dodgers’ manager, before Friday night’s game with the Diamondbacks. “That’s why you’re looking for guys who have been in those high-leverage situations before. You’re trying to bet on stuff, experience, heart rate.” Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start LOS ANGELES — How many relief pitchers does it take to screw up a season? Don’t wait for a punchline.On Friday, Ryan Madson became the 20th reliever acquired by a contender since midseason. Remember John Axford, whom the Dodgers got at the July 31 deadline? He’s hurt.Remember Tom Koehler, one of the key off-season imports, or Tony Cingrani, who came over last summer? They’re hurt, too.Add Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson, new to the Dodgers in 2017 and then lost in free agency, and it seems a little daft to say that Dodger management isn’t trying to corner this amoeba of a problem. Because it isn’t just an L.A. problem. The Athletics brought in Jeurys Familia, Fernando Rodney and Shawn Kelley. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Dodgers were scrambling for bullpen solutions even before All-Star closer Kenley Jansen suffered his irregular-heartbeat episode in Denver. The aftermath has left Jansen adjusting his medicine and trying to figure out where he left his cut fastball.It also has sped the metabolism of Dodger hitters, who have seen first-hand how difficult it is to get an erosion-proof lead, and have been swinging at butterflies at an alarming rate.Madson, 38, was Brad Lidge’s setup man when the Phillies won the 2008 World Series, when his killer changeup frustrated the Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez in the National League Championship Series. He is fourth among active pitchers with 731 appearances. He also had a 1.83 ERA last year and a 5.28 ERA this year. There is hardly a straw left ungrasped.Relievers continue to usurp the game’s territory. Tampa Bay is getting rave reviews for its “opener” concept, in which a starter, usually Ryne Stanek, gets three or four or five outs and then turns it over to somebody else for five innings or so. You can’t do that for 162 games, but it’s easy to foresee the opener replacing the fifth starter in a couple of years. There simply aren’t enough competent and/or healthy starters to fill 30 rotations.In three of the past four seasons, the team with the bullpen that leads baseball in batting average against (BAA) has won the World Series.Related Articlescenter_img How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire In the past six seasons, that team has made the playoffs. In 2015 and 2017, the top six bullpens in that department also made the playoffs. The Angels were the MLB leader in 2002 when they won their World Series.Today’s setup relievers are bred for instant triumph or failure. In a matchup-crazed game, they either get an out or get gone. Earl Weaver used pitcher-vs.-hitter stats before most of today’s R&D technicians were both, but he normally waited for a measurable number of at-bats. When a hitter is 3 for 7 against a certain pitcher, that might or might not mean anything, depending on whether either one was hot, hurt or distracted.San Francisco showed baseball how bullpens were supposed to work in the early 2000s, when Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez shared the workload. Their performances told Manager Bruce Bochy who the closer should be.Then there were the Nasty Boys in Cincinnati, with Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble and Randy Myers glaring their way to a World Series title based on their own vibe, not the hitter’s.Both teams also had long-lasting starters. Until baseball can rescue those critters from extinction, the summer game will be the guessing game. Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies last_img

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