December 9, 2022

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'They're just nasty': LA bullpen continues to dominate

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The offense built an early lead behind Anderson, then the relievers locked it down
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LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers’ formula during their 13-6 start to the 2022 season has been simple: Use their high-powered offense to get an early lead, get stellar starting pitching, then turn to a bullpen that has been lights out, particularly when given a lead. 

That was precisely the case in the Dodgers’ 5-1 win over the Tigers on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. Justin Turner and Chris Taylor hit long home runs to get the Dodgers out in front. The dangerous trio of Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner helped the team tack on.

On the mound, Tyler Anderson delivered another solid start in place of the injured Andrew Heaney, allowing one run on five hits over five innings. Similar production has been exactly what the Dodgers have needed recently, considering manager Dave Roberts has one of the most dominant bullpens in the Majors at his disposal. 

“They’re just nasty,” Anderson said of the bullpen. “There are just so many guys that are so good at what they do. They come out, throw strikes and just trust their stuff.”

Graterol’s impact doesn’t come as a surprise, as the right-hander was a pivotal part of the Dodgers’ bullpen in each of the last two seasons. The 23-year-old, however, is starting to come into his own. He has eight strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings this season, including a scoreless eighth on Friday. The only blemish in Graterol’s season thus far was allowing a go-ahead homer to the D-backs’ David Peralta earlier this week.

Now, this one is very surprising. Phillips joined the Dodgers late last season and didn’t get much action down the stretch. But 19 games into the season, Phillips is starting to become one of the Dodgers’ most reliable relievers. 

For starters, Phillips has touched 97-98 mph on occasion with his fastball. The added velocity has made his already dominant slider even more untouchable. Just ask Javier Báez, who went down swinging on three of Phillips’ sliders. In his last seven outings, Phillips hasn’t allowed a hit and has struck out nine over 7 1/3 innings. 

Alex Vesia
Season ERA: 0.00

Vesia benefitted from some luck in his first few outings, but the left-hander is starting to show signs of his old self. The velocity on his four-seam fastball is trending up. That’s bad news for opposing hitters, good news for the Dodgers. 

Daniel Hudson
Season ERA: 1.35

Hudson’s signing didn’t steal the headlines this offseason, but the right-hander has given the Dodgers another veteran presence in the back end of the bullpen. The D-backs got to him in his last appearance, but that’s all Hudson has allowed this season.

Los Angeles has been able to string together some dominant performances and they’ve mostly done it without their top two relievers in Craig Kimbrel and Blake Treinen. Nobody has warmed up more than Kimbrel, but the Dodgers just seem to extend their lead before he’s able to get into a game. Treinen will miss time with a right shoulder injury. Those two will make an impact later in the season.

Phil Bickford has done just that since he returned from injury. The right-hander has yet to allow a run in five appearances. David Price, who is on the COVID IL after testing positive for the virus, has also given the team some solid innings out of the bullpen. The list goes on and on for the Dodgers.

“They’ve done a great job of shortening the game,” said Roberts. “They pound the zone, they [strike out guys] when they need it, they get some soft contact. … We ask a lot from our guys. They’ve answered the bell.”

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