When the Dodgers flew home from St. Louis after getting trounced in Game 6 of last year’s NLCS one thing was crystal clear. As good as the Dodger bullpen was, the Cardinals bullpen was a lights-out beast that was as impenetrable by the Boys in Blue.
This off-season the Dodgers have bolstered their bullpen by bringing in three former All-Star closers who will probably serve as set-up men to Kenley Jansen.
Brian Wilson, Chris Perez and Brandon League were all closers that pitched in the mid-season classic. When you throw in relievers JP Howell, Jamey Wright there isn’t a lot of room in a pen with all of those big names and power arms. It’s tough to see where this leaves Paco Rodriguez after his stellar 2013 campaign that seemed to fizzle down the stretch.
The Dodgers brass knows they don’t have the power arms that the Cardinals do, so they did the next best thing, bring in experience. In Wilson they know exactly what they have, an uber-competive workout machine who seems bound and determined to become a dominant closer at some point down the line. He is your best possible option as a set-up, with full faith he can take over as closer if Jansen falters.
The Chris Perez signing raised eyebrows considering his history. The former closer saw his velocity drop a bit and then the injury bug struck. As Perez battled through injuries he tweaked his delivery, which led to poor mechanics, which then led to giving up 11 home runs in 54 innings of work. He eventually lost his closer’s role and was released by the Cleveland Indians in November.
No one really knows what to make of Brandon League. I watch the guy pitch and I see the movement, the power sinker, the velocity and I just don’t understand how he gets hit so hard. But, last year he got whacked around The Ravine like a pinata. League has something GM’s love in the bullpen. It’s that 95 mile-per-hour power sinker that is heavy and dives out of the zone. For League, that sinker needs to start mid-thigh and needs to dive to the shoe-tops. Instead that sinker was starting out belt-high and ended up at the thighs and was getting raked. He drew the ire of Dodger fans, but could come back into the good graces of the fan base with a resurgent 2014. Even though the faithful are calling for League’s head and for the Kasten and Coletti to release him, I just don’t see it. League is still owed 14 million dollars and throws 95 miles-per-hour. The guy gets an Uribe-like mulligan and has a ton to prove in the spring.
In closing, I would still take the Cardinals youth and power arms over the Dodgers bullpen, but I do believe the Dodgers have closed the gap. This Dodger pen is deeper and better for the 2014 season.