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Understanding the Rationale Behind the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Pursuit of Bullpen Depth

January 30th, 2014 at 5:00 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

The late-season faltering of Los Angeles Dodgers left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez may have been the impetus for the team’s spending on shoring up the bullpen this offseason. The Dodgers should expect to have more than $30 million committed to the bullpen for the 2014 season, an indication that they may be concerned about the workload carried by their relievers in 2013.

'Paco Rodriguez' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Rodriguez had been one of the Dodgers’ most reliable relievers, being used by Don Mattingly in a great deal of high-leverage situations, even serving as a setup man to Kenley Jansen at times. By the end of the year, Rodriguez was ineffective, ultimately being left off the NLCS roster despite the Dodgers having only one left-handed reliever in J.P Howell. In comments made in a recent MLB.com article by Christina DeNicola, Rodriguez admitted to fatigue being a factor in his inability to perform as the season wore on, while also mentioning that he has worked to improve his ability to endure.

"Last year, I thought I prepared well enough, but at the end I might have gotten a little tired and I didn't pitch as well as I wanted to. I felt like I had to work a little harder just to get to that point where I can last a whole season."

It seems that general manager Ned Colletti took notice of the fatigue that plagued his bullpen arms, as he spent the bulk of the offseason adding former closers to the 2014 Dodgers bullpen. Brian Wilson and J.P. Howell were brought back on free-agent contracts, and Chris Perez and Jamey Wright were brought in after spending 2013 with the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays, respectively.

'Dodgers vs Cardinals playoff 2013 Brian Wilson' photo (c) 2013, Mr. Littlehand - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The bullpen now features incumbent closer Kenley Jansen, along with former closers Wilson, Perez and Brandon League. The addition of relief pitchers with experience in the high-leverage situations that Rodriguez was often called upon to pitch last season should allow for a more even distribution of the workload, even when considering the fact that League was largely ineffective last season.

The stockpiling of arms should also to serve to protect the bullpen from injury, as these moves seem to push Chris Withrow back to the minor leagues to start the season. Withrow was very effective last year, particularly down the stretch, so having him waiting in the wings is a nice luxury.

Tags: Baseball, Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, Don Mattingly, Jamey Wright, Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB

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