The bullpen has consistently been a strong suit for the Dodgers. This offseason, Zach Britton should be the only new “big-name” bullpen arm.
The Los Angeles Dodgers success last season came with the performance of the bullpen. When Los Angeles went on a record-setting summer run, the bullpen was so consistent you forgot it even existed. Then, when the team struggled in September, it came wit a minor bullpen implosion led by Pedro Baez.
That did not stop the Dodgers ‘pen from dominating in the playoffs. However, the Dodgers’ best aspect came back to be their kryptonite in the World Series. Dave Roberts‘ over-reliance on the bullpen led to fatigue, which led to multiple Astro comebacks in games two and five.
You cannot really blame Roberts, though. The bullpen is what got the Dodgers to that place to begin with. Roberts was merely following the old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
With most of the primary pieces returning to the bullpen next season, the Dodgers are in great shape. Right now, Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson are the only significant bullpen arms entering free agency. However, Morrow has expressed his interest in returning to the Dodgers. Therefore, midseason trade acquisition Tony Watson may be the only one to walk.
That is assuming that Watson even walks, to begin with. However, if he does, Los Angeles has the perfect backup option: left-handed reliever Zach Britton.
Britton was the most dominant closer in 2016, however, he was out for the majority of 2017 due to injury. Now, with one year left under contract and the Baltimore Orioles in no position to contend for the postseason, Britton is the easiest piece to shop away. A team like the Dodgers, who would need to fill Watson’s left-handed void, could greatly benefit from Britton.
Although Britton would not be assuming the closer role from Kenley Jansen, he would act as a setup man alongside Brandon Morrow. Depending on the circumstance, the Dodgers could pitch either a dominant right-hander or left-hander, it is a win-win.
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This strategy definitely can work, as well. We saw the Cleveland Indians do it with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen in 2016. Britton would act as that shutout arm that can come in during the sixth, seventh or eighth. Whenever the opposing offense starts to rally, Britton can come in a shut it down.
Adding that to an already stacked Dodgers bullpen is huge. With an arm like Britton, those same meltdowns would not have happened in the World Series. With Britton on the team, the Dodgers arguably could have won in five games.
Except they didn’t. Now, the Dodgers’ front office is looking for any way to improve their team to win just one more game. The bullpen may be the first focus of that effort and Britton would be the icing on the cake.
Overall, the team is fine without Britton, but arguably become unhittable past the sixth inning with him. With a slew of prospects and big league talents available to trade, acquiring Zach Britton should be the Dodgers only bullpen acquisition this offseason.