The Dodger Bullpen Might Be a Problem

Thursday, April 8, 2021
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021

Thursday was an off day for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Coming off a difficult road trip, the Dodgers needed an off day to see if both Mookie Betts (a stiff lower back) and Cody Bellinger (a spiked lower calf) can avoid going on the IL.

On the just past road trip to Colorado and Oakland, the Dodgers excelled at every area of the game, except in the bullpen. Yes, Corey Knebel proved he has come all the way from Tommy John surgery in 2019. He is the only Dodger reliever who shined during the road trip.

While many Dodger fans want to discard both Jimmy Nelson and the longtime closer Kenley Jansen, it is way too early to remove a reliever. Any baseball player can have a slump. Both relievers are in slumps.

Nelson had not pitched competitively since 2019. Despite a 13.50 ERA, Nelson had fantastic spring training. While in Milwaukee, he was mainly a starter. It takes any pitcher to adjust to a new role. Nelson needs patience while he does it.

The early-season performance by Jansen is far more disturbing than Nelson’s early-season struggles. Dated back to September 2020, he has had control problems. He has velocity issues. While he had good spring training and his first outing of the 2021 season, he has toiled in the next two outings. With both Joe Kelly and Brusdar Graterol on the IL, the Dodgers do not have many choices for the closer role. Yes, Blake Treinen can be the closer, but he also has struggled so far in 2021.

The Dodger bullpen must improve quickly, or it will be a long season for the Dodgers.

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