As bad as the Dodgers bullpen was last year, there is a sound belief that it can be 180 degrees opposite of that this year. The fact that they have six solid starters who should pitch deeper into games will alone put less stress on the pen and keep the arms fresher.
Which starting staff gave up the fewest home-runs last season – the Giants 2011 rotation or the Dodgers? It may surprise you because Tell Lilly was a home run machine with 32, but the Dodgers projected starting five gave up 82 HR, while the Giants gave up 92. Here’s the breakdown:
- Kershaw – 7 Lincecum – 18
- Billingsley – 8 Cain -22
- Kuroda – 12 Bumgarner -11
- Garland – 20 Sanchez – 21
- Lilly – 32 Zito -2 0
If Lilly could drop his HR totals, which should happen in LA, the disparity could be even greater. Anyway, back to the pen. Here’s what it should look like:
Vicente Padilla – I think he can flourish in the pen. His fastball will run up to 97-98 out of the pen, and if he mentally buys into the move, he has “closers’ stuff.”
Matt Guerrier – Barring injury, if he does what he has always done, he’s a solid middleman, day-in and day-out.
Ronnie Belisario – After a lost 2010, he has been lights out in Winter Ball and is supposedly close to obtaining his visa. He knows this is an important year, and by all accounts is serious about regaining his role as a setup man or part-time closer. He another “high 90′s guy.”
Hong-Chih Kuo – All that has to happen is that his arm has to stay attached to his body. If it does, he is the most devastating LH reliever in baseball. Can you say “high 90′s?
Kenley Jansen – Flash in the Pan or the real deal? He’ll have to prove it, but I think he will. Too much horse power… Ditto on the high 90′s.
Jon Broxton – Nobody would love to see J-Brox rebound with a good year and be the closer more than me (I’m the one who bad-0mouths him the most). He would either help the Dodgers immensely or be trade bait which would help the Dodgers immensely. High 90′s!
Scott Elbert – After an erratic and AWOL season last year, Elbert showed promise as a situational lefty in the pen – If he keeps it up, he’ll make the team out of Spring Training.
Blake Hawksworth - Barring injury to one of the other pitchers, he’ll be waived, clear waivers and end up at AAA.
Ramon Troncoso – His sinker of 2010 didn’t sink and it made him stink. If he pitches like 2009, he will shine. If he’s like last year he will be waived and claimed by another team. I figure the 12th spot is between him and Elbert.
Jon Link, John Ely and Carlos Monasterios won’t make the team unless they pitch out of their minds and someone else is hurt. I could see a scenario where Rubby DeLaRosa would make the team out of the pen, but that’s a long-shot. I do believe that it’s likely Rubby will pitch for the Dodgers in 2011, even if it’s only in September. Let’s not forget Josh Lindblom, who had an awful 2010, and was converted back to a reliever (which is where I think he belongs). He’s still high on my radar. Look for him to work his way back.
The debacle of 2010 can be attributed to a lot of things, but the bullpen woes killed any change the 2010 Dodgers had. It should be a completely different situation this year. This years’ bullpen should be “lights-out” not “lit-up. “
- I’d love to see Kim Ng piss off James Loney at arbitration and see what he plays like with a chip on his shoulder.
- Say what you will about Gil Meche – He’s obviously a stand-up guy – he let $12 mil on the table, unlike Jason Schmidt who sucked the Dodgers dry.