Yimi Garcia’s elbow surgery eats into pen depth, highlights need for help

Immediately after it was announced that Kenley Jansen would re-sign with the Dodgers, people started to wonder who would replace Joe Blanton to help secure the bridge to the closer. Now, after Yimi Garcia‘s Tommy John surgery was revealed yesterday, adding to the bullpen likely becomes even more of a priority since the pen depth is already being chipped away.

Dodgers reliever Yimi Garcia underwent Tommy John on his right elbow on Oct. 25, the club confirmed Thursday. Officials offered no explanation for why the operation wasn’t disclosed earlier.

Yimi is quite the forgotten man, but in 75 innings over three seasons, he has a 3.12 ERA and a 3.31 FIP. His 4.15 DRA gives some reason for pause, and makes me question if the home-run issues were more legit that his numbers indicated, but when healthy he always performed like a quality middle-innings bridge to the back-end of the pen. Now we know Yimi won’t be doing that for the Dodgers until probably 2018, and when I looked into the current pen situation, it became obvious that the Dodgers needed to at least replace him if not upgrade from him.

Related to that, Ken Rosenthal recently tweeted out that the Dodgers would not sign a free-agent reliever to a multi-year deal.

Whether that’s the truth or posturing remains to be seen, but speculation surrounding what the Dodgers will do in regards to the pen is understandable.

The Dodgers bullpen was excellent last year, but Joe Blanton is now a free agent and the Dodgers don’t seem to have a reliable bridge to their recently handsomely-rewarded closer. From left side, the Dodgers have Grant Dayton, Adam Liberatore, Luis Avilan, and Vidal Nuno in tow. Dayton emerged as a potential back-end arm but he’s lived more years than he’s pitched innings in the bigs, Liberatore was great for most of the year but got hurt and didn’t look the same upon return, Avilan is just solid, and Nuno is mainly quality depth. From the right side, the Dodgers are now reduced to Pedro Baez, Chris Hatcher, Josh Fields, and Josh Ravin. Baez is … Baez in that he’s wildly inconsistent but will likely be above average, Hatcher flashes potential but was a non-tender candidate, Fields has promise but carries a career 4.34 ERA at age 31, and Ravin has the stuff but all of 19 innings in the bigs and will be 29. While the Dodgers do have a lot of starter-reliever hybrids at their disposal, that only goes to my point about reliable options, since it’s impossible to tell when they might be needed in the rotation and we don’t know what any of them would do if forced into a permanent pen role.

The current group basically has a lot of potential to emerge and be a top-five bullpen yet again, but it also has a lot of risk and therefore carries the potential to blow up into mediocrity. Kenley Jansen returning helps take away a significant amount of anxiety, but there’s plenty of reason to still have concerns.

Anyway, I’m definitely not saying Yimi Garcia being healthy would’ve solved anything as he was a question mark in his own right, but losing him for the year made me take a closer look at the pen as it’s currently situated and I quickly realized I’d feel a lot more comfortable with a healthy, proven veteran from the right side (Brad Ziegler?) to provide a reliable option to turn to.

Here’s hoping the Dodgers brass feels the same way.

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"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times