Rookie Emmet Sheehan’s dream debut came crashing down when the Dodgers’ season-long problem peaked its head out of the bullpen.
The Dodgers called up their 13th-ranked prospect to start the home series against the longstanding rivals, the Giants.
After six innings of no-hit baseball, the Dodgers’ bullpen continued its season-long torture and gave up the lead. Brusdar Graterol started the agonizing relief pitching by giving up a two-run home run to Wilmer Flores. Victor Gonzalez came in only to give up the lead.
Brusdar Graterol’s home run and Gonzalez’s third earned run came after both pitchers started the at-bats with two strikes. Dodgers’ pitching excelled in two-strike situations last season. This year, the opposing batters are hitting above average in situations where they are in a two-strike hole.
The Dodgers lost the game 7-5 in extra innings, and the Giants swept the three-game series. After being swept by the Giants, the Dodgers fell to third place in the National League West. They are currently 4.5 games behind the first-place Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers have not seen a third place this deep into the season since 2018. Pitching is at a loss with no answers on the sidelines. June has turned the Dodgers into a potential prospect wholesale team during the trade deadline.
With expanded playoffs at play, the number of teams willing to sell halfway through the season has dwindled.
A Closer is Needed
One of the biggest reasons the pitching has collapsed is that there are no set roles for the pitchers in the pen. Dave Roberts has had to balance a bullpen without a closer. As bad as Craig Kimbrel was for the Dodgers last season, his arm still came in to closer 22 times throughout the season.
Roberts’ decision-making when it comes to a closer this season depends on the matchup, but the Dodgers have blown seven saves this season. The bullpen has lost 14 games this season. The thin pitching depth chart has caused the Dodgers to overwork their bullpen and set them up for failure. Even when the bullpen comes in to maintain a lead, the Dodgers lose games.
Andrew Friedman is confident the arms on the current bullpen will turn things around:
“I’m confident that as we go guy by buy, there are very compelling upside stories that when we look back a month from now, it will be very different.”
Hopefully, his words of encouragement can make their way into the ears of the pen because, at the current rate, the season can be at a loss if nothing changes.
With a trade deadline in August, the Dodgers need to make a trade for a starting pitcher. The young arms that have been called on to save the day will continue to help out as much as they can. Given the Dodgers’ past treatment of rookies, Miller and Sheehan are definitely on a pitch count.
The Dodgers need to land a starting pitcher or two to salvage their rotation and relieve Kershaw from the amount of weight he is currently carrying. They need to land Lucas Giolito, Marcus Stroman, or any of the pitchers currently pitching for the Cardinals. The Dodgers have the depth in prospects to land a top-notch pitcher without emptying out the pocket.
Emmet Sheehan and Bobby Miller can become fourth and fifth in the rotation and help this team become contenders again.