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Hansel Robles signing adds to Dodgers’ volume relief approach

Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

The Dodgers signed right-hander Hansel Robles to a minor league contract, which was first reported by Mike Rodríguez of Univision and Juan Toribio of The 31-year-old is the latest to join the stockpile of veteran relievers who may or may not help the Dodgers in the second half.

Robles was released by the Red Sox on June 9, after a stretch in which he allowed 11 runs in his last eight games. He had a 2.37 ERA as late as June 10, though admittedly the peripheral numbers at the time (19-percent strikeout rate, 4.63 FIP) didn’t fully back that up. But it was all downhill for about a month before Boston let him go.

That’s the volatile nature of relief work. Robles was solid for a season and a half for the Angels, posting a 2.64 ERA, 2.99 FIP, and 25 saves in 109 innings. But since the start of 2020, Robles has a 5.63 ERA and 4.86 FIP in 110⅓ innings.

Robles will head to Triple-A Oklahoma City, per Toribio, and won’t be alone.

Dellin Betances is in his fourth week in Triple-A, trying to work his way back from shoulder surgery last July. Betances, now 34, was one of the dominant relievers in the sport from 2014-18, but has pitched a total of 28 innings in the majors and minors since the start of 2019, plagued by injuries.

The results have been so-so for Betances with Oklahoma City, with a 6.14 ERA in eight games, having not allowed a home run. He pitched back-to-back games once, but then had five days off before allowing two runs on Thursday night. Betances is averaging 93.6 mph on his fastball in Triple-A, down four ticks from his heyday.

Pedro Báez could conceivably join Oklahoma City soon. The veteran right-hander is working his way back from shoulder injuries this season and last with the Astros, and signed a minor league deal to return to the Dodgers in May. Báez, now 34, has pitched in three games in the Arizona Complex League, throwing three scoreless innings with two strikeouts, allowing only a single. He last pitched Tuesday.

Those three have all pitched in impact roles in the majors and are trying to work their way back.

Robles having pitched in the majors this month, and not working his way back from injury, presumably makes him the closest to the majors of this group, depending on how Betances has been evaluated, I suppose.

They all seem to go into the pile of relief pitchers who might help the Dodgers down the stretch. That group includes the bevy of pitchers already on the injured list, with Brusdar Graterol, Blake Treinen, Tommy Kahnle, and maybe even Danny Duffy expected back at some point, probably mostly in August at the earliest.

Despite various injuries, the Dodgers bullpen ranks sixth in MLB in ERA (3.26), fifth in FIP (3.31), fifth in strikeout rate (26.1 percent), and second in strikeout-minus-walk rate (18.8 percent). But they could definitely use some reinforcements.

On the depth front, the Dodgers have nailed the quantity part. Now we just wait and see which ones will add to the quality.