The Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen has always been a strength for the team. It is said that a team needs all of the pitching it can get, and in the Dodgers' case, this saying is remarkably true.
The bullpen consists of those guys whose job is to come out and throw strikes. As of right now, the Dodgers' bullpen looks like this:
- Joe Beimel
- Cory Wade
- Scott Proctor
- Hong-Chih Kuo
- Ramon Trancoso
- Chan Ho Park
- Takashi Saito
- Jonathan Broxton
- Scott Elbert
- Jason Johnson
- James McDonald
Like most teams, the bullpen is either what breaks you or saves you during the game. Relief pitchers, by the end of the season, are usually running on fumes. You could look at the Arizona Diamondbacks as an example, where their starting pitching was great but when they went to the bullpen, it was another story.
You could also look at the New York Mets, whose bullpen leads the league in blown saves. That is a hire-wire act!
The Dodgers have suffered their fair share of injuries within the bullpen, as closer Takashi Saito went on the DL during a key stretch. Many Dodgers fans wondered how future closer to be Jonathan Broxton would do.
Broxton had excelled in the role as a set-up man to Takashi Saito. When it came time to step up, Broxton had mixed results. He would close out games and accumulate blown saves. However as the season progressed, Broxton took the reigns as the Dodgers closer and hasn't looked back.
Saito is back, but he looks like he could use a few more games (which there aren't that many left) to get his stuff back.
Our middle-relief corps is strong, with situational left-hander Joe Beimel and Cory Wade throwing nothing but strikes. Wade, a AA player called up to the majors, has shown why he is here to stay for a long time. Pressure doesn't bother him. He just comes in and gets outs.
Beimel is great with his deceptive move to first, where he pauses before throwing the ball. Talk about a way to throw a baserunner's timing off or a batter's timing off! Scott Proctor, before admitting he was injured, was really hurting the team. Every time he went out it was like he was throwing batting practice.
After spending a long time on the DL, he came back and has been a workhorse. Hong-Chih Kuo, the man that has had many surgeries in his pitching arm has been phenomonal. He is currently experiencing arm discomfort, but this could a be a result from fatigue.
Park is hit or miss. Sometimes he is on his game. Other times he is way off. It is a roller-coaster ride. However, this is his first season back in the majors after barely pitching last year.
Jason Johnson is great as a long relief pitcher but nothing more. Every time I watch him pitch, it is like he is serving batting practice to the other team. Quite scary because he usually pitches with men on base.
Elbert, McDonald, and Trancoso are callups (even though Trancoso was with the club in the beginning of the year). Elbert has filthy stuff, and I'm excited to see him in '09. Same goes for McDonald. Trancoso has a filthy sinker that he can use as his out pitch.
So, the playoffs are coming around and who makes the cut?
Here are my predictions.
Chan Ho Park
Hong-Chih Kuo (if he doesn't go on the disabled list)
Scott Elbert (if Kuo goes on the disabled list)
Playoffs start next week. I will be at the first Dodgers home game. I bleed Dodger blue. 2008 NL West Champions.
UPDATE: Well I was pretty much right, minus Scott Elbert. Taking his place is Ramon Trancoso. We are carrying 11 pitchers.