Is There Bullpen Help on the Horizon?

It’s no secret that the Dodgers’ bullpen has grossly under-performed this season (so far). Therefore, one might ask the question:Is there any help for the bullpen in the minor leagues THIS Season? Scott Alexander is a possibility IF he can work on his control, which has always been suspect.  He’s a ground-ball machine if he can get hitters to swing, but too often he puts the pitch too far out of the strike zone and they don’t bite.  There’s a fine line between a pitch in the dirt and a pitch that is just above the dirt. There is a lot of potential there, but he has to deliver… and he hasn’t! Scott will likely be back at some point, but he’s far from a sure thing.

The problem is that the Dodgers are grooming most of their young pitchers as starters, which isn’t a bad thing, except that there are generally only five starters on the big club.  Yimi Garcia is finally back with the big club, but it might take a few more games for him to round into form.  He can be a solid piece.  Brock Stewart has a career ERA of 5.97 as a MLB Starter and 2.39 as a MLB Reliever.  Even Ray Charles can see where he should be.

Shea Spitzbarth is a RH Reliever at AA Tulsa, who is one of the TRUE relievers in the system.  So far, this season, in 17 IP, he has allowed just 10 Hits and 5 BB with 20 Strikeouts and has a 2.12 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP. His over-the-top four seam fastball hits 95 MPH and he he has a plus, plus curve and has also developed an above-average change-up. While Josh Sborz has been the closer and put up good numbers himself (14 IP/10 H/5 BB/19 K 3.21 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP), Spitzbarth has the makings of a set-up man.  He’s 2 and this is his second season in AA, so he will likely mover to AAA soon… He could go up the ladder quicker! There’s a chance he could see LA this year.

NOTE:After I wrote this Spitzbarth gave up 6 ER in .2 innings and raised his ERA to 5.09. so what do I know?

I guess the same could be said of Sborz, but one guy to keep an eye on is Ariel Hernandez, the guy with the 100 MPH heater and big curve ball.  Some people think he has no clue where the ball is going, but of late, he is showing signs that he might have half a clue… and if he does that, he can absolutely fill the 8th inning role.  After a bad start at Tulsa, he now has struck out 10 batters in 7 innings while only walking 3. His ERA is currently 3.68 and his WHIP is 1.36.  This guy is 26 years old, so he could “get it” with a quickness.  I am keeping an eye on him, because his stuff isBrandon Morrow Filthy.. if he can control it!

Of course, there are some pitchers at AAA OKC who could help right now, led by the freakshow that is Pat Venditte and his 1.98 ERA. Daniel Hudson is already up, so there is that. Of course, the Dodgers could always switch Dennis Santana and Caleb Ferguson to the pen, but that seems unlikely.  My point is:  there could be some real help in the minors and the Dodgers will explore that BEFORE making a trade. Of course, there are several others who could step up – one never knows. And then… there is Julio Urias.  He’s getting ready to start throwing off the mound soon.

Rants and Raves

  • When Puig comes back, he will go back to RF and could be showcased for a trade.  I am of the opinion that Alex Verdugo in RF makes the Dodgers better.  I would love to see him hit lead-off this year.  He can play CF, but he’s not a permanent CF’er, in my opinion.
  • Locastro in CF?  Maybe – but I am not sure he will hit enough.  I hope I am wrong – he has the wheels.
  • Taylor, Hernandez, Barnes and Farmer all need to capture some consistency.  They have run hot and cold this entire year… mostly cold.
  • I will be in LA, May 20-23 and catch the Dodgers-Rockies Series – that seems to be about the time Justin Turner will return.

Now, it’s on to:

This article has 61 Comments

  1. RF Verdugo
    CF Pederson/Hernandez
    SS Machado
    3B Turner
    1B Bellinger
    LF Toles/Kemp
    2B Taylor
    C Barnes/Farmer
    Traded: Puig, Grandal,
    Los Dodgers se van a México a jugar béisbol ganadora

    1. So, who did you trade for Machado?

      And… you traded the team leader in RBI and HR, So that Barnes and Farmer can form a weak Catching unit and platoon the other team leader in HR’s? Are you advocating “tanking?”

      1. Grandal’s home runs and RBI are already in the bank. They are assets if he is traded high, otherwise they are only indicators of future performance as is his all of his history. He is gone next year and if he has more value now than later in the trade deadline, now is a good time. Barnes is heating up and has a .400+ OBP without much help from a .200 BA.
        Puig and Grandal’s absence eats up most of Machado salary. Who else is traded is FAZ’ problem.

    2. Wait until the off-season and then sign Machado. Move Seager to 2B to put less strain on his arm.
      1st – Bellinger
      2nd – Seager
      SS – Machado
      3B – Turner
      Pretty potent infield.

  2. It’s time for Verdugo to be a full-time player. I think I’ve seen enough. He brings a jolt of youthful energy and we need something to help us get over Seager’s loss. Too bad for Toles. He’ll have to wait.

  3. I am waiting to see what Verdugo does, if he stays up and gets enough at bats, because it is still really early with Verdugo.

    Because right now he has only had 17 at bats at the major league level, and he was only hitting 276 at AAA when he left, after having 70 plus at bats, in AAA.

    But I do think he will hit eventually if he doesn’t continue to hit like he is now, or he doesn’t get to stay up when Puig comes back.

  4. Come on M.T.!! Why would it be “tanking” to consider trading Puig or Grandal… Yasmani will not, barring injury to others , lead the Blue in HR & RBI’s…
    Even Ray Charles can see you got alot verbally invested in Yasmani…
    It’s very early, but our future is with Verdugo and soon, very soon, we will be seeing the Ruiz battle coming to town.

    1. Go back and look – I suggested trading him BEFORE the season started, but I don’t think you should do that now SO LONG as the Dodgers are still in the playoff hunt. Teams that would want him (like the Nats) are teams the Dodgers might play in the playoffs and I think it would really hurt the team.

  5. I was not a believer in Verdugo [in fact, MT called me a “hater”] but I have come around. his hit tool seems so advanced and coupled with that arm and youth and relative athleticism, he seems like a fair bet to be productive player with the potential of having a few impact seasons if his strength continues to develop as he matures [which it should]. i’m not a scout but he looked a little stiff and unbalanced when I saw him last year; this season the early reports are that he’s on every pitch and the results so far have been encouraging. when it comes down to it, and you need a hit or a walk, he’s likely to be among our best guys to have at the plate. maybe 2018 is over just yet . . .

  6. “isn’t” over



  7. Don’t look now but Jeren Kendall is starting to heat up.


    That’s a lot of outfielders in the system. I probably even forgot a name or two. I personally think we could have a situation next year where Diaz is knocking on the door for a starting job similar to Verdugo this year. I’ve always liked Taylor in CF but we’ll have to give serious thought to moving him to the infield at some point. Toles seems destined to be the forgotten man but maybe we just call him a 4th OF at this point and assume he takes over the Joc role in 2019. Any way you slice it, there will be trades to thin out the numbers.

    1. Toles is ready now but I personally would want a good backup player for him because he might be fragile. Kemp and Toles seem to be a good platoon in LF.

    2. I doubt Toles is the forgotten guy, because when he went out, this was his numbers.
      462/ 500s/700s/ 1200s

      And if the reporter at the OKC newspaper was right, Toles should be coming off the DL today.

  8. I cannot see any possible trade for Machado. He has already stated unequivocally that he wants to play SS. That seems to me that unless he was guaranteed the SS job for the Dodgers in 2019 and beyond, he would strictly be a rental for 2018, and the cost in talent would be prohibitive. Plus, his prorated $16M salary would take the team perilously close to the luxury tax, if not over by the end of the season. Per Cots Tax Tracker the Dodgers are currently $15,508,614 under the luxury tax and that is not considering any bonuses due Maeda. The Orioles are not going to take any players with salary back, only prospects…high prospects. Unless the Dodgers overpay now, it behooves the Orioles to wait until the trade deadline. The Dodgers should also wait until the trade deadline to see where they are and whether they will be buyers or sellers. If buyers, will they need a SS, even one as good as Machado?
    Relief pitchers like to pitch more often so they can get some consistency. Spitzbarth has averaged more than 3 days between pitches, and only 1 being with 2 days. In his 10 games, 6 have been scoreless, 2 games he allowed 1 run, 1 game 2 runs, and last night he blew up with 6 runs in 2/3 inning. That also took his WHIP from 0.88 to 1.19. That one game should not deter the Dodgers from pushing him up the organization ladder. It would also be nice to see him pitch more often and with less innings. In 8 of his 10 games Shea has pitched more than 1 inning, with 6 of those being 2.0 IP or more.
    Sborz has been in 11 games and 8 of those games have been scoreless. In one of the games, he allowed 1 unearned run, and he allowed 2 runs and 3 runs in the other 2. Josh is pitching more often, and lately pitches with only 1 day off. It has been 2 days since his last appearance, so I would expect to see Josh pitch today. It would also be nice to see him go back to back save opportunities on occasion. Sborz is ready for AAA.
    I agree with Mark that Ariel Hernandez is a wild card. If his command can be harnessed, he could definitely be a potential setup reliever. But that is a big IF.

  9. Since our starting pitching is short handed, let’s give Fernando a short term contract, get him out of the press box and let him pitch one of the games in Mexico! Smile.

      1. some of my saddest memories as a dodger fan were watching late-career Fernando [the Legend] desperately trying to get major league hitters out with a fastball that topped at 85. the screwball was one of the great all-time pitches to witness but when he lost that velocity and separation, he just couldn’t do it any longer. I do remember being happy for him when he had that bounce-back year for SD in 1996 (13-8 w/3.62 ERA) which erased a lot of the bad images from five years earlier with us. he’s truly a once-in-lifetime dodger and we’ll likely never see the likes of him again. (hideo nomo was probably the closest for me in terms of sheer likability and mound dominance).

  10. I would like to have Machado for the next 8 years and I would like to have him for only the rest of this year. To get him a third team will be needed that would be willing to send Baltimore a top prospect for Puig and Grandal or similar salaries. The Dodgers could add a prospect or two.
    The Dodgers need a Manny. They have done well with Mannies. The Dodgers need star power. The Yankees have it. The 2018 Dodger/ Yankee World Series will be more glamorous with a Manny.

    1. It will cost more than a prospect or two.

      Puig might have value since he has more team control, but Grandal would only bring a good haul if he went to the Nats or if a tem has their catcher go down.

      Any trade to get Machado is going to involve Buehler and Verdugo!

      How have the Dodgeers done well with a Manny… other than for a few weeks…. then the wheels fell off.

      1. I’m of the opinion that any dodger currently on the disabled list has close to no value right now. exception might be urias (& seager).

    2. Trading for Machado would be the most un-FAZ thing this front office could possibly do. We have to listen and stay involved, but it just seems almost impossible to imagine. Would you trade Ruiz, Santana, & Peters for Manny? Because I swear that would be about the cheapest you would get him for. I believe the BALT front office is so stubborn they’d rather lose him to FA than make a trade they didn’t think was fair value. And it’s pretty damn hard to question his value given his age, his season to date, and his extreme marketability. To me he’s simply not part of the 2018 discussion.

  11. Actually, Orel and Joe said that the Dodgers have the most WAR on the DL of any team in baseball.

    1. what if we went WAY outside the box and made Rich Hill a multi-inning bullpen guy in the playoffs? this would assume we had a full rotation and still had a need for a lock-down guy in the late innings.

      1. He would be expensive, but I think he would accept it. He’s a good teammate. It takes him some time however to get the “feel” of that curve… unless you pitch him every day.

  12. Farmer at 3B is like having AJ Ellis without the power. I like the guy but I think he’s a little exposed playing so much. Pretty much ditto on Muncy but he at least looks like a threat to hit one out every so often. Just because we have “depth” at 3B (Segedin/Peter/Valera? too) doesn’t mean they are any good. I wish we would’ve just stuck with Keekay there or signed or traded for a short term fix. The 3b black hole this season has been a key contributor to our bad start.

  13. Machado is demanding to play short because he thinks it will raise his value on the market. Whether that’s true or not it is only a one year issue and doesn’t really affect the Dodgers because they could play him at Short. Toles or Joc, Barnes or Smith, Alvarez, would be my starting point if the Dodgers were in. I would include another pitcher not named Buehler or Urias if the O’s took Forsythe of their hands. That would make the luxury tax complications more workable. The Dodgers also have plenty of utility type guys that could be used in such a deal. If such a deal could be worked out, I move Taylor to 2nd base for this year.
    Kemp and his platoon partner

    1. The O’s are in no hurry. Someone may cough up a lot by the trade deadline. The O’s want a lot of pitching…

      Dennis Santana’s stock is rising:

      In 2017, Buehler pitched at AA Tulsa and in 49 IP, gave up 40 hits and struck out 64 with 15 BB. He had a 3.49 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. That got him a callup.

      This year, Dennis Santana at the same level, has pitched 28 innings, gave up 17 hits and struck out 37 with a 2.25 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.

      He has walked 10 batters, but in every other aspect of pitching he is doing better than Buehler… and he’s now 22. Could he get a callup? He’s on the 40-man.

      1. Verdugo and Bellinger could pal around with him. Three very young guys on the team would be cool. May the 4th be with him.

        1. Yeah, but can he pitch in the majors? I think he might get a shot. Ryu might be out until August.

          No one has mentioned it much, but Ryu was the Dodgers best starter this year: 30 IP/16 H/36 K’s/ 2.12 ERA/0.88 WHIP and the league was hitting .154 against him. That was a big blow!

          1. No, it’s a huge blow. Our #5 was pitching well and getting better. This will hurt our depth for sure.

            I do wonder if Banuelos gets the call next, as he’s a bit older

      2. The way players are dropping like flies. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Santana up in some capacity. I feel bad for Ryu. He definitely put the work in trying to not only improve his curveball but also come up with a different fastball/cutter. I also think it keeps the Dodgers from doing what needs to be done and should have been done which is move Maeda to the pen. I don’t want to hear any more from Doc that he’s in the rotation because it what’s fair. It needs to be what it is best for the team and Maeda is on record agreeing with that.

        You’re right, the O’s don’t have to be in a hurry to move him, but will they get more by making him a 2 month rental vs a 5-month rental? I don’t really know.


    – The Los Angeles Dodgers today recalled right-handed pitcher Walker Buehler from Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and optioned left-handed reliever Edward Paredes to Triple-A Oklahoma City. The club also recalled infielder/outfielder Brevyic Valera from OKC, who will be added to the roster as the 26th man per Major League rules for the Mexico Series in Monterrey against the Padres.

    Buehler, who will make his third start of the season tonight, last pitched in the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday against the Giants, allowing just two runs on six hits and striking out six in 5.0 innings to record his first win of the year. The 23-year-old has gone 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA (2 ER/10.0 IP) and has struck out 11 against four walks, while limiting hitters to a .256 average in two starts with Los Angeles this season. In 10 career appearances with the big league club, the Kentucky native has a 2-0 record with a 4.66 ERA and has struck out 23 batters in 19.1 innnings.

    Valera, 26, who will make his third stint with the big league club this year, has gone 0-for-3 with a walk in three games with the Dodgers this season. In 17 games with Oklahoma City this year, he has posted a .373 (19-for-51)/.459/.549 slashline with 13 runs, three doubles, two homers and 14 RBI, while also drawing nine walks against just eight strikeouts. The speedy utilityman has seen the majority of his playing time at second base (nine games) with the OKC Dodgers, but has also seen time at shortstop (four games), third base (four games) and in left field (one game).

    Paredes, 31, made his 2018 debut in yesterday’s contest against the Diamondbacks, allowing one batter to reach base via a hit by pitch in 0.2 scoreless innings of relief.

  15. FAZ likes high risk high reward type guys. One VERY HIGH risk and could be a high return just became available. Matt Harvey was just DFA’d. He has to start because he refused to relieve and refused to go to Minors. Not much of a TEAM guy. I like the potential, but the risk is just too high on a non-team player.

    1. I don’t think I would touch Harvey with a 10’ft pole. I soured on him long ago. He seems like a giant tool.

  16. The Dodgers will not trade for Machado and give up any prospect to just have Machado as a rental. Machado is first and foremost going to be a free agent at the end of this season.If the Dodgers want to try and sign him then fine.

    1. Unless the Dodgers feel so strongly about their culture and ability to keep him after the season. They have the resources to go toe to toe with everyone in the off-season. At some point, the logjam of Verdugo, Toles, and Pederson needs some clarity. I’m just playing Devil’s advocate. I haven’t come down one way or another on such a move yet.

  17. So… Matt Harvey just got DFAed. Anyone willing to kick the tires on this guy? I think he still has it; he just needs a better support system. What do we have to lose?

  18. Just say no to Harvey… Prima Donna making $5.625 M and wont pitch for his team!!!
    Gotta put down the bubbler some time on Manny… I’m all in on going after him in FA…
    You know if we play our cards right Buehler could be in our starting rotation the entire year… Time to snatch the pebble Stryker!!! There I tried M.T.’s moniker….It still sucks…

  19. I checked the line up and Roberts has Taylor and Hernandez in the first two spots. I don’t know why Taylor is still leading off when only Puig and Forsythe have lower OBP’s and they are both on the DL. Then he puts another low OBP guy batting next in Hernandez, while Verdugo is batting seventh. Baffling.

  20. Is it me, or is that ball bouncing quit high off that turf? I hope nobody gets hurt diving for a ball on that hard ground!

  21. Seven games out of first, why both playing the ROY. Let’s field a lineup full of utility players.

  22. Damn , Stryker is dealing! The Kershaw of the future. The man has swag, that’s for sure,

  23. Not cool with pulling Stryker with a no hitter, but totally understand. Good move Doc.

  24. I’m way behind on the Grandal trade talk but he is not going to bring much. He is a career .242 hitter who Ks a lot and hits into a lot of double plays. He is a fine catcher and a power hitter. But why would you trade for him when you can just wait and get him as a free agent. Mark is right maybe somebody like the Nationals who we wouldn’t want to trade with. His average is moving the wrong way now but his catching and power are what we need. I would definitely not be batting him anywhere but 7 or 8 he is just not a very good hitter. If we are still in it at the trade deadline we will need him and barnes. If we are not try to trade him to get something. I will say I acknowledged how good ryu could be in earlier posts. This is a huge loss. We need urias to come back.

  25. Great team win and hats off to Buehler though it would have been nice for him to go out for the 7th inning. A combined no hitter even though against the Pads is still a big confidence builder. Dodgers have the most all time no hitters of any team, now 26. The Padres are the only major league team to never have one. With the Snakes getting stomped by the Astros tonight it’s a bit more sweet. Go for a sweep in Mexico while the Astros and DBacks slug it out! Verdugo is going to be very hard to send down when Puig comes back.

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