That Quietly Great Dodger Bullpen Is Getting National Attention

With an early game today, this is just a quick thing to pass along some very favorable pieces on the Dodger bullpen. Remember the bullpen? The one that everyone freaked about so much early in the season even though I pointed out how surprisingly well it was doing?

Over the last 24 hours or so, two of my FanGraphs colleagues have penned articles about just how effective the mostly-anonymous Dodger bullpen has been so far, even in the absence of Kenley Jansen. Over at Fox, Dave Cameron outlines not only how productive they’ve been, but how cost-effective:

So this is how the Dodgers bullpen situation breaks down now from a salary standpoint. Howell — the lone holdover from the Colletti era — makes $4 million. Peralta makes $2.5 million, which is why the Rays mostly just gave him away. Nicasio is at $2.3 million, a price the Rockies didn’t want to shell out, which is why he the Dodgers got him for virtually nothing. Meanwhile, Hatcher, Rodriguez, Baez, Garcia, and Liberatore are all making roughly the league minimum of $500,000. The eight guys currently sitting in the Dodgers bullpen have combined MLB salaries of $11.3 million, or about 58 percent of what the team guaranteed Wilson for what ended up being 48 1/3 atrocious innings.

And even without Jansen, this group has been incredible. Its 34 percent strikeout rate is best in baseball so far, far ahead of the second-place Cardinals, who come in at just 28 percent. Its park and league adjusted ERAs are 37 percent better than league average, tied for fifth-best in baseball, and it isn’t being driven down by good luck or stranding a lot of runners; its expected ERA based on their BB/K/GB rates is exactly the same 37 percent better the league average, again easily the best in baseball so far.

Eno Sarris caught up with a few of the relievers in the visitor’s clubhouse in San Francisco this week, and came away with some great insight:

And having three former position players actually has an ancillary benefit, according to their catcher. “Their game awareness is off the chart, Kenley and Hatch both, they have a really good feel for the game, for the running game, which comes in handy behind the plate,” Ellis said. “Sometimes you have relievers come in and they’re so singularly focused on getting hitters out that the running game goes wild.” The Dodgers’ pen has only allowed two stolen bases this year, and only two teams have allowed fewer.

Both pieces are well worth reading in full.

Also, there’s this:

Anyone miss Chris Perez & Brian Wilson & Paul Maholm? No? I didn’t think so. Big names and big salaries don’t automatically equal big production.

About Mike Petriello

Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is