When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Brian Wilson to a contract that would bring him back to the bullpen, the Dodgers believed they were getting a reliever that would not only be a great setup man, but also one that could easily step in as the closer if needed. Wilson was a lockdown reliever over the second half of the 2013 season for the Dodgers, and it looked as though he was only getting stronger as he continued his return from his second Tommy John surgery.
While it is still very early in the season, Wilson has not lived up to the lofty expectations, and the bullpen has not been the area of strength that many thought it would be. It may be Wilson who best embodies this, as he has struggled to be effective and he has already spent some time on the disabled list.
Over the course of just four innings, Wilson has been charged with two losses. His ERA is astronomical at 15.75, and while ERA is not a great measure for relievers and the sample size is incredibly small, it illustrates just how mightily Wilson has struggled. Even though it is undeniable that Wilson has hit a rough patch while giving up eight runs on eight hits and four walks, there may still be hope.
On the season, opponents have registered a .438 BABIP, a level that is well above the league average. While this may simply be an indication of how hard opponents are hitting Wilson, it is also reasonable to expect that there will be a significant regression to the mean.
It is far too early for the Dodgers to be concerned, especially given the fact that they remain in first place despite their struggles with the bullpen and on defense. Wilson may not have a season like the one he had last year when he was nearly unhittable, but he has clearly demonstrated a proficiency for adaptation. As he works through his struggles, the Dodger bullpen will likely produce at the level many expected in the offseason.
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