Memorial Day is seen by many as the first important milestone of the season. We hit that point this past Monday, and the Dodgers have started to round into form at the perfect time.Written off by many after a woeful start to 2018, Los Angeles has won six of its
Memorial Day is seen by many as the first important milestone of the season. We hit that point this past Monday, and the Dodgers have started to round into form at the perfect time.
Written off by many after a woeful start to 2018, Los Angeles has won six of its last eight contests to pull within 2 1/2 games of the D-backs in the National League West with more than 100 games left to play. As injuries have decimated the Dodgers' rotation, with Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and ace Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list, the club's bullpen has stepped up in a major way. In this past week alone, Dodgers relievers pitched an MLB-high 37 innings and posted a 3.16 ERA with 42 strikeouts and seven walks to earn MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford honors for the period from May 28 to June 3.
As part of Prevailing Moments presented by The Hartford, each Monday throughout the 2018 season, MLB.com is honoring baseball's best bullpen from the previous week. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.
Here's how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:
• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded
• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout
• Add 5 points for a save
• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
• Subtract 1 point for each walk
• Subtract 5 points for a blown save
The Dodgers led the Majors with a bullpen score of 112.5 to just edge out the Cubs at 111 points. The Nationals placed third with 97 points.
A resurgent Kenley Jansen picked up three saves during the week while lowering his season ERA to 2.67. Righty Yimi Garcia led the club with 5 2/3 innings while allowing one earned run on four hits with five strikeouts.
The unexpected: The Dodgers made a habit of coming back over the weekend en route to their first series sweep at Coors Field since 2010, and that strategy wouldn't have been possible if the Dodgers' bullpen hadn't kept them within reach. The greatest example of that came Sunday, when southpaw starter Alex Wood allowed six runs in just two innings and Los Angeles found itself in an early 6-1 hole to the Rockies.
"He just didn't have it," manager Dave Roberts said of Wood on Sunday. "You have to make the decision if you want to bet on him and he was laboring, or go to the bullpen."
How they prevailed: While Colorado's offense got on a roll to begin Sunday's contest, that came to an end as soon as Roberts signaled to his bullpen. Erik Goeddel, Garcia, Josh Fields, Brock Stewart, Tony Cingrani and Jansen combined for seven innings of one-run ball, striking out 10 Rockies without a single walk in a dominant performance. The Dodgers' offense rallied back for nine of the game's final 10 runs -- including three in the ninth -- to score a 10-7 victory and finish off the sweep. Los Angeles outscored Colorado by a combined score of 21-3 after the fifth inning over the weekend's three games.
"They were the star of the series," Roberts said of his bullpen.
They'll need to continue their strong efforts if Los Angeles hopes to claw its way back into a World Series contender.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com.