Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Review: Bullpen

Just like my season preview series, I'll be reviewing each section of the Dodgers' team, starting with the bullpen.

Dodger bullpen by the numbers
17-18 W-L
3.92 ERA
1.32 WHIP
8.0 H/9
0.7 HR/9
3.9 BB/9
8.6 K/9
2.18 K/BB
40 saves

Individual performers

RHP Jonathan Broxton
1-2, 5.68 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, 10.7 H/9, 1.4 HR/9, 6.4 BB/9, 7.1 K/9, 1.11 K/BB, 67 ERA+, 7 saves
- Broxton was supposed to have a bounce-back season, but his injuries finally caught up to him. His average velocity has decreased the last two seasons. In 2009, he averaged 97.8 MPH on his fastball. In 2010, it was down to 95.3 MPH. In 2011, it was 94.1 MPH. There was clearly something wrong with him -- it wasn't that he forgot how to pitch. He is an unrestricted free agent this season and I'd be surprised if he came back to L.A.

RHP Lance Cormier
0-1, 9.88 ERA, 1.98 WHIP, 14.5 H/9, 2.6 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 4.6/ K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 39 ERA+
- This was a disaster from the start, but Cormier somehow got into nine games. In those nine games, he was (predictably) horrible.

LHP Scott Elbert
0-1, 2.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7.3 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 3.8 BB/9, 9.2 K/9, 2.43 K/BB, 154 ERA+, 2 saves
- Elbert finally found his niche in the majors. While he was really effective against left-handed hitters (.191 BAA, .250 SLG, 2.57 K/BB), he was able to get right-handed hitters out, too (.254 BAA, .305 SLG, 2.29 K/BB). He should be a fixture in the Dodgers' bullpen for at least the next five years.

RHP Javy Guerra
2-2, 2.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.1 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9, 7.3 K/9, 2.11 K/BB, 162 ERA+, 21 saves
- Guerra had never pitched at a level above Double-A prior to 2010. He always had ability, but he could never throw enough strikes. However, he got it under control this season. He started off great with the Lookouts and got the call in May and never left the Majors. Guerra stepped in and a did an admirable job as the Dodger closer. His peripherals aren't great (BB/9, K/9, K/BB), but unless he reverts to his previous form, he should be a serviceable reliever for the foreseeable future. Developing a true strikeout pitch would go a long way in helping him have more long-term success in the Majors.

RHP Matt Guerrier
4-3, 4.07 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.0 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 3.4 BB/9, 6.8 K/9, 2.00 K/BB, 92 ERA+, 1 save
- Guerrier is likely not going to live up to his contract -- which was a colossal mistake. He posted his worst numbers since 2008, when he had a 5.19 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and a number of other poor peripherals. The poor season could be attributed to switching leagues, but switching from the AL to the NL should have --in theory -- helped his numbers. Guess not.

RHP Blake Hawksworth
2-5, 4.08 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.6 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 7.3 K/9, 2.53 K/BB, 92 ERA+
- When the Dodgers traded Ryan Theriot to the Cardinals for Hawksworth, the move was praised by many because Theriot was on the way to being non-tendered. To get something even remotely useful for him was a nice coup. Hawksworth pitched well in the first half before suffering a second-half letdown. Still, Hawksworth was useful this season and I could see him back in 2012.

RHP Kenley Jansen
2-1, 2.85 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 5.0 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 4.4 BB/9, 16.1 K/9, 3.69 K/BB, 131 ERA+, 5 saves
- Jansen had a quite the season. He set the Major League record for strikeouts per nine innings (16.1), a record that the Cubs' Carlos Marmol set last season (15.99). On April 21, he gave up five runs to the Braves in 1 2/3 innings. Since from that date on, Jansen was downright dominant, posting a 1.20 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, .113 BAA and 83 strikeouts in 45 innings, good for a 16.6 K/9 rate. Jansen probably won't get any recognition for NL Rookie of the Year, but he should.

LHP Hong-Chih Kuo
1-2, 9.00 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 8.0 H/9, 1.3 HR/9, 7.7 BB/9, 12.0 K/9, 1.57 K/BB, 42 ERA+
- Kuo was historically good last season and was quite awful this season. Kuo, who made the All-Star team in 2010, just never got on track this season. While he still struck out hitters with ease, he didn't do much else. He's up for arbitration and said recently he could retire instead of returning to the Dodgers. When he's healthy, he's nearly unhittable. Unfortunately, he wasn't this season, which was disappointing. Like Broxton, Kuo's average velocity dropped considerably from '10 to '11 -- from 94.3 MPH on his fastball to 92.5. His slider velocity also dropped (86.8 to 83.7).

RHP Josh Lindblom
1-0, 2.73 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 6.4 H/9, 0.0 HR/9, 3.0 BB.9, 8.5 K/9, 2.80 K/BB, 138 ERA+
- There was talk in 2009 of Lindblom making the Dodgers' bullpen out of Spring Training. When that didn't happen, he was sent back to the minors to give the rotation another shot. When that failed, the Dodgers finally moved him back to the 'pen, which is where he belonged the whole time. He put up solid numbers in limited action and should be a source of cheap, quality innings for the next few years.

RHP Mike MacDougal
3-1, 2.05 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 4.6 BB/9, 6.5 K/9, 1.41 K/BB, 182 ERA+, 1 save
- MacDougal was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training and pitched well enough to make the squad. But don't let his shiny ERA and ERA+ fool you -- he wasn't nearly that good. MacDougal provided some quality innings, but they were not without concern. A high WHIP and BB/9 coupled with a low K/9 and K/BB ratio is one way to get lit up. Somehow, MacDougal only gave up more than one run in a game twice on the season (both times just two runs). It wouldn't surprise me to see him back, but I wouldn't be in favor of it.

RHP Vicente Padilla
0-0, 4.15 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 7.3 H/9, 0.0 HR/9, 5.2 BB/9, 9.3 K/9, 1.80 K/BB, 93 ERA+, 3 saves
- Padilla was signed to be the "swingman" in the 'pen -- a spot starter, long reliever or even closer. Things were going OK until he injured his forearm in May. If not for his injury, Guerra might not have gotten his shot to close games. Padilla could still be a quality performer out the bullpen in 2012, if the Dodgers decide to bring him back.

RHP Ramon Troncoso
0-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 15.1 H/9, 2.0 HR/9, 1.6 BB/9, 5.6 K/9, 3.50 K/BB, 56 ERA+
- A once quality bullpen arm is now a mop-up man. Troncoso pitched in 18 games this season -- 13 of which he finished, a stat that tied him for third with the Dodgers. However, he didn't pitch any meaningful games -- and for good reason. He was simply not effective, evidenced by his WHIP and grotesque H/9 rate.

Starters who made relief appearances
(Numbers as relievers)

Rubby De La Rosa (3 games)
1-0, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 5 K
- Got his first Major League win out of the bullpen.

Nathan Eovaldi (4 games)
0-0, 10.13 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 HR, 3 BB, 0 K
- Pitched rather poorly out of the bullpen, but might ultimately end up there if he doesn't improve his off-speed offerings.

John Ely (4 games)
0-0, 2.57 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 8 K
- The shine of Elymania is long gone. He'll bounce between Triple-A and the Majors as a spot-starter for the duration of his career.

Bullpen MVP: Jansen
- While many would choose Guerra because he stepped in as the closer, Jansen was the most dominant reliever in the Dodger pen -- and all of baseball. Despite a "slow" start this season, Jansen turned it up and was Mr. Dependable for the Dodgers.

Bullpen LVP: Cormier
- This one is tough. It could go to Kuo for his utter inability to get anyone out without giving up runs or it could go to Troncoso for his wretched numbers (especailly the 15.1 H/9), but Cormier takes the cake. At least Kuo and Troncoso had past success with the Dodgers. Cormier had no business being on a Major League roster.

Next up: Rotation

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