The Dodgers’ bullpen in the second half of the 2023 season was one of the best in baseball. From July 14 until the regular season finale, the Dodgers first in all of baseball in reliever ERA, first in FIP, and first in fWAR.
While Evan Phillips held his own as the Dodgers’ closer and with Brusdar Graterol preserving a scoreless streak that is still standing throughout the last two months of the regular season, the Dodgers were able to swing a deal for a recently released reliever who had struggled mightily with the Boston Red Sox.
Ryan Brasier inked a minor league deal with the Dodgers midway through the 2023 season after posting 7.29 ERA in 20 games with Boston. With Los Angeles, Brasier salvaged what looked to be a lost season, becoming one of the best relievers not only within the Dodgers’ bullpen, but also within all of Major League Baseball.
The Dodgers will be getting two reinforcements who missed all of last season— Blake Treinen and J.P. Feyereisen— to strengthen an already superb bullpen, but if the Dodgers want to bring back a reliever who was arguably one of the best in baseball in the second half, then they should look to re-sign Brasier.
Here are two reasons for why the Dodgers should bring back Ryan Brasier.
Limits hard contact
While the starting pitching severely struggled with their ability to keep the ball within the stadium, especially with the failed Lance Lynn experiment, their bullpen consistently limited the amount of home runs given up, posting the second best HR/9 rate within all of baseball in the second half and the third best throughout the entire regular season.
Brasier was a key piece for preventing the long ball. Even when combining his splits with Boston, Brasier ranked within the 62nd percentile in ground ball rate and ranked within the 95th percentile in barrel rate. His ability to limit hard contact contributed to an average exit velocity of just 87.4 mph off Brasier during his time with the Dodgers, with over half of batted balls off of him resulting in ground balls.
Brasier had his best season in terms of opponent’s success rate since his breakout 2018 season with Boston, where he would help that team win the World Series over the Dodgers. He limited hitters to a sub-.200 average for the first time since 2018 and held hitters to a .248 average on balls in play, ranking 27th among all relievers who pitched at least 50 innings in 2023.
Low risk, high reward
The Dodgers have been known for their reclamation projects for players who have struggled in previous seasons, resulting in them compiling a season reminiscent of their best years. Most recently, the Dodgers brought in outfielder Jason Heyward on a minor league deal ahead of the 2023 season, and he turned in his best offensive season in over a decade, resulting in a $9 million contract to remain with the team that has rejuvenated his career.
The Dodgers are currently one of six teams that are in the market for Brasier. With all the money the Dodgers have thrown at improving their starting rotation and their lineup, adding a player like Brasier shouldn’t cost the team anywhere near the cost of signing either Shohei Ohtani or Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
The Dodgers have already handed out one year deals to three free agents this offseason, as they brought back Joe Kelly and Jason Heyward while bringing in Teoscar Hernández. Hernández signed for $23.5 million for the 2024 season, while Kelly and Heyward signed for a combined $17 million. Although the Dodgers currently have the third highest payroll in baseball and are almost $55 million over the CBT threshold, adding Brasier on a one-year deal wouldn’t cost the team a hefty price tag.
With the way the Dodgers have spent this offseason, the expectations are high and the newest additions are eager to compete in the postseason for years to come. The rotation received a much needed facelift and the offense now casts three MVP recipients and a plethora of serviceable talent surrounding the new big three. As good as the bullpen was in 2023, adding Brasier back for the 2024 season ensures that the Dodgers have a reliable arm that can limit hard contact, be a great set-up man for either Phillips or Graterol, and won’t put the Dodgers in financial turmoil.