LOS ANGELES — In a game that saw one fantastic nine-inning pitching performance from the starter, the Dodgers bullpen was also great on Tuesday night on their way to beat the Cardinals in 13 innings. That has been par for the course this month for the Dodgers bullpen, which has been even better in May than in April.
Luis Avilan allowed a single in the 12th inning, but other than that he combined with Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, and a newly-groomed Josh Fields for four scoreless innings with nobody else reaching base.
Dodgers relievers in May have a 2.85 ERA, good for fourth in the majors, and rank second in FIP (2.69) and first in xFIP (2.57). They also rank first in strikeout rate this month (33.8%) and second in walk rate (6.5%), with an absurd 5.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in May.
In April, the Dodgers’ bullpen had a 3.10 strikeout-to-walk ratio which ranked fifth in the majors and second in the National League.
Jansen has yet to walk a batter this season, and with 33 strikeouts is two shy of tying Adam Wainwright (2013) for most strikeouts in a season before a first walk in major league history. In May, he has 16 strikeouts and no walks.
Chris Hatcher is right behind him with 15 strikeouts and no walks this month, and has 16 strikeouts since his last walk, on Apr. 29.
Fields has 24 strikeouts against only four walks on the season, and Ross Stripling has 28 strikeouts with just five walks.
The Dodgers set a franchise record with 517 strikeouts in relief in 2015, then shattered that with 633 strikeouts out of the bullpen in 2016, the latter setting a major league record.
With 185 strikeouts in 150⅓ innings through 46 games this year, the Dodgers bullpen is on pace for 652 punchouts in 2017. Believe it or not, those 185 strikeouts don’t lead baseball. The Astros (195) and Reds (187) have more relief strikeouts this season than the Dodgers, though only Houston (31.7%) has a better strikeout rate than LA (30.2%).
Last year the Dodgers set a major league record with 607 relief appearances, and ranked seventh all-time with 590⅔ innings out of the bullpen.
This year, with Clayton Kershaw healthy to date and backed by a more productive starting staff so far, the bullpen usage has been much more subdued, with a pace of 511 appearances and 529⅓ innings over the course of an entire season.
Rich Hill gets the ball for starters on Wednesday night, looking for his first trip to the sixth inning this season. Then again, this is only his fourth start.
Mike Leake starts for the Cardinals, and has lasted six innings or longer in all eight of his starts in 2017.
Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA