A week ago, I wrote an article that claimed the Los Angeles Dodgers needed to address the bullpen issues which had plagued them in the first half of the season. This morning, I wrote a different article that said the Dodgers bullpen was the unsung hero of their six game road trip. Now I am hearing rumors that the Dodgers want to use starting pitcher Ted Lilly as a reliever. The game of baseball is such a roller coaster ride!
Dylan Hernandez of LATimes.com wrote, “[Lilly] figures to be used as a long reliever.” There have been other reports to add some stock to this claim as well, but the next few games will be the tell tale sign as Lilly was finally activated from the Disabled List yesterday after Matt Kemp went down.
I still stand by my opinion in saying the Dodgers need to address the bullpen issues. Despite a fantastic stretch, the six-game road trip is not telling of the numbers the bullpen has consistently put together. There needs to be at least one addition in order for the Dodger bullpen to really be a force. I firmly believe that Ted Lilly is not the change that ought to be made.
Lilly has been known as a “fly ball pitcher” throughout his career, meaning he gets many of his outs via pop ups and fly outs. The problem with this is, every time one of those high flying balls stretches to the deep outfield, Dodgers fans everywhere have heart attacks and hope the wind keeps it from going out. And Lilly’s pitches all too often do find their way into the outfield stands.
Let’s take a look at Ted Lilly’s career statistics. As a 15-year starter, Lilly has a collective ERA of 4.14 and a WHIP of 1.26. Neither of these statistics are very impressive and there is a list of others I could throw out there that would further prove my point. Alas, I will only interject one more statistic: home runs.
With 293 home runs allowed in only 331 career starts, Lilly has allowed the fourth most career home runs for all active pitchers. My biggest problem with Lilly in the bullpen is his ability to allow home runs that can change the tides of a game.
As a starter, Lilly had the time to get all of his pitches working for him and used his wide arsenal to throw hitters off the scent. As a reliever, Lilly would likely get one inning at a time, maybe two innings or even a rare three every once in a while. I just do not believe Lilly’s stuff is dominant enough for him to be pitching out of the Dodger bullpen.