The Los Angeles Dodgers opened up the “second half” of the MLB season with a six-game road trip. The team first played three games against the Washington Nationals and then crossed the border into Canada for a three-game stint against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Everyone saw the Dodgers’ big bats come to life as they managed to average 7.8 runs per game. They noticed the unusually loud crack of the bats as they smacked a total of 10 home runs, an abnormally high amount for a team that only had 76 home runs coming into the road trip – an average of less than one per game.
But most people did not notice the Dodgers’ bullpen working efficiently and frequently.
The bullpen started the road trip by collectively throwing 10.1 consecutive scoreless innings in the first four games. The group pitched a total of 22.1 innings in the six games, and only allowed six runs for an ERA 2.41. They also had a WHIP of 1.21 and recorded 20 strikeouts for a pace of 8.1 K/9.
For most of the season, manager Don Mattingly had only been able to call down to the bullpen for a few pitchers. In this trip, the coach utilized eight different relievers: Jose Dominguez, Paco Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Chris Withrow, Brandon League and Carlos Marmol.
The two most surprising men on that list were the last two, League and Marmol. The latter was an unsurprising disappointment in his debut for the Dodgers, allowing three earned runs in 1.2 innings. Marmol was part of an underwhelming trade earlier this season, and I sincerely doubt we will be seeing much more of him in the majors. League, on the other hand, performed extremely well on the road trip, throwing 4.2 scoreless innings.
Finally, bullpen anchor Kenley Jansen managed to convert all three of his save chances while the other relievers had a collective record of 4-0. The most important thing to keep in mind about these unsung heroes is that they gave up the lead once, for one inning, then gained it back and did not relinquish it for any of the other 21.1 innings.
Without the Dodgers’ bullpen, the Boys in Blue would not have had such a hot start to the second half and would not be sitting in first place in the NL West.