Now that we have come up with 46 proposed lineups with 33 different players, maybe we can shift out from the lineup to pitching. The rotation, at least as it presently exists, appears set. Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Noah Syndergaard, and Dustin May. Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove have shown they are ready to assume a spot in the rotation should one arise (and it will), with Gavin Stone not really that far away. We all assume that Bobby Miller will get there, giving the Dodgers 9+ potential starters. Not to be outdone, Andre Jackson is not a bad #10. Now there is your vaunted depth.
Now let’s see if we can create a bullpen. As I was sitting down to write this, I had to stop and watch one of my dark horse favorites…Nick Robertson. Nick was actually looking to be a potential call up last year, but his season did not go well. He would pitch well and then get blown up in a game. Either very good or very bad. No consistency.
Let’s start with who will not be starting the season in the pen.
- Blake Treinen – Maybe back at the end of the year.
- Alex Reyes – Tentatively June/July.
- P. Feyereisen – Maybe August/September.
- Daniel Hudson – Early in the season, but not right out the gate.
- Yency Almonte (R)
- Phil Bickford (R)
- Justin Bruihl (L)
- Caleb Ferguson (L)
- Victor González (L)
- Brusdar Graterol (R)
- Shelby Miller (R)
- Evan Phillips (R)
- Jimmy Nelson (R)
- Alex Vesia (L)
Others on the 40 man destined for OKC (at least initially).
- Michael Grove
- Andre Jackson
- Ryan Pepiot
The obvious choices (at least for me) are, Almonte, Ferguson, Graterol, Shelby Miller, Phillips, Nelson, and Vesia. The Houston Astros arguably had the best MLB bullpen in 2022, with their top 7 choices all RHRP. Thus there is no magic to balancing the bullpen, unless you are the Dodgers. So, do the Dodgers bring in a RHRP or LHRP to round out the initial pen. IMO it is the one who gives them the best chance to get outs.
Phil Bickford, Justin Bruihl, and Victor González, figure to be the primary considerations for that 8th spot. Bruihl and González both have two options remaining while Bickford has zero. Will that give him an advantage? Maybe, maybe not. I just do not believe the potential of a DFA will be a deterrent. There is still four weeks to go in ST, and VGon has not pitched yet. And we are talking about one inning pitchers who do not need to be stretched out.
There is a chance that one of the three young rookie pitchers ( Michael Grove, Ryan Pepiot, or Andre Jackson) might get the chance to start the season in the bullpen, but it is doubtful that AF would take any of the starters and stick them in the pen while they still have options. Jackson fits into the relief role much more than Grove or Pepiot. Grove and Pepiot almost assuredly will continue starting at OKC until a spot opens up, and it will.
One roadblock to Jackson starting in LA will be Jimmy Nelson. Nelson could be that multi inning reliever keeping Jackson back at OKC, also in a starter role. JUST IN CASE.
The Dodgers have signed 15 relievers to MiLB contracts.
- Matt Andriese
- Trevor Bettencourt
- Dylan Covey
- Keegan Curtis
- Tyler Cyr
- Rubby De La Rosa
- Robbie Erlin (could be OKC starter, if necessary)
- Bryan Hudson
- James Jones
- Adam Kolarek
- Jake Reed
- Tayler Scott
- Wander Suero
- Lucas Williams
- Jordan Yamamoto
They also acquired one reliever via Rule 5 draft, Carlo Reyes.
They have also invited multiple LAD prospect holdovers from prior years who are on the AAA roster.
- Justin Hagenman
- Marshall Kasowski
- Aaron Ochsenbein
- Nick Robertson
- Logan Salow
- Mark Washington
Outside of Carlo Reyes, every one of the above relievers has seen action in the first 7 games. Some have shown promise against other teams’ reserves and MiLB players, while others have struggled.
I do not consider any of the above a realistic option of breaking camp with the Big League Team, but a few could be considerations at some point during the season.
Of the MiLB contract relievers, it is very hard to say without doing a deep dive into their history, which does not seem prudent. A favorite of mine is Rubby De La Rosa. Matt Andriese has extensive MLB experience. Not a lot of it good experience, but neither did Evan Phillips. Tayler Scott, Wander Suero, and Robbie Erlin have also shown well in each of their two outings.
Of the returning LAD prospect relievers, the two that show the most promise at this point in the Spring are Nick Robertson and Mark Washington. But both will be starting the 2023 season in OKC. I think both are potential single inning non high leverage relievers at the MLB level.
Bottom line, the Dodgers have a lot of options when it comes to relievers to start the season. Then the relief corps should benefit from the additions of Hudson, Reyes, Feyereisen, and possibly Treinen. Thus, there is little chance that the bullpen facing the DBacks on March 30 will resemble the bullpen on Game 162 (October 1) against SF.
They are going to start out with a good to very good bullpen and end with an outstanding bullpen, with multiple adjustments throughout the season.