Tuesday’s game very plainly illustrated why the Dodgers need to add bullpen help, which is good timing since the MLB trade deadline is only a handful of days away. That’s the main focus of today’s Leading Off with True Blue LA podcast.
Garrett Cleavinger, who was called up earlier in the day to replace the lowest-leverage arm in the bullpen (Reyes Moronta), was thrown into the fire right away, asked to pitch with a one-run lead in the eighth inning against the Nationals. Before considering the results, it’s worth pointing out that this gambit almost worked, and that Cleavinger might have been out of the inning had Gavin Lux not thrown wildly on a ground ball to open the frame.
But he didn’t, and the fourth out Cleavinger tried to induce instead turned dark thanks to a hanging slider, turning the game around.
At issue though is that four of eight Dodgers relievers were unavailable on Tuesday after heavy usage in the first five days after a four-day All-Star break.
That tends to happen when just about every relief appearance tops out at one inning. This aspect might improve within a few days, if Mitch White sticks around in the bullpen after Andrew Heaney takes over as the fifth starter in the rotation.
But the Dodgers’ bullpen depth is very shaky at the moment, in terms of having pitchers you might use in October. Brusdar Graterol is probably back reasonably soon, but everyone else is far away. Blake Treinen, out since April with shoulder soreness, will be shut down for the next two weeks, making a late August return the earliest.
None of the three veteran relievers on minor league deals — Hansel Robles, Dellin Betances, Pedro Báez — are close to a point where they could meaningfully help the Dodgers. The only healthy relievers on the 40-man roster not currently in the majors are Jake Reed and Justin Bruihl.
Those blaring sirens you hear in the background is the signal that the Dodgers absolutely need bullpen help, and should acquire at least one, and probably two relief pitchers at the trade deadline.
Episode link (time: 20:24)