LOS ANGELES -- Without their top two starting pitchers, Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood, the strength of the Dodgers' bullpen has been tested of late.And with a bullpen game set for Saturday and Thomas Stripling (aka "Chicken Strip" for Players Weekend) set to make a spot start in place of
LOS ANGELES -- Without their top two starting pitchers, Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood, the strength of the Dodgers' bullpen has been tested of late.
And with a bullpen game set for Saturday and Thomas Stripling (aka "Chicken Strip" for Players Weekend) set to make a spot start in place of Wood, the Dodgers avoided using a bevy of relievers against a potent Brewers lineup on Friday. Taking over after Kenta Maeda's six innings of one-hit, one-run ball, the Dodgers' bullpen blanked the Brewers en route to a 3-1 win.
Entering the game with the best bullpen ERA in the Majors (2.97), the combination of Tony Cingrani, Josh Ravin and Kenley Jansen showed why. The trio faced the minimum over the final three innings and completed the one-hitter.
"Guys have been great, giving all the guys rest," said Jansen who recorded his 35th save. "Josh Ravin and [Cingrani], they did a terrific job, we gotta keep going."
It was the third time the Dodgers had thrown a one-hitter this month, a franchise first since at least 1913, with Hyun-Jin Ryu going seven innings in a combined one-hitter in an 8-0 win against the Mets on Aug. 6 and Rich Hill's bid for a perfect game in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to the Brewers.
The Dodgers have been able to compile the best record in the Majors while dealing with injuries from slugger Adrian Gonzalez to ace Kershaw, but their bullpen has been consistent for them all season.
"Every guy we run out there out of the bullpen has an unbelievable arm," said Justin Turner. "I think Kenley's our softest thrower, he throws a 92-mph cutter, but even he can run it up 95, 96. A lot of power arms down there. They know what they're trying to do. I think we all know the 'pen down there was the backbone of the team last year, and we're a lot better team this year, and getting the same results from the bullpen. They've been outstanding for us all season long."
The Dodgers sit comfortably atop the National League West standings with a 20-game lead, and manager Dave Roberts heads into Saturday's "bullpen game" with a rested stable of relievers.
"It was great," Roberts said. "Obviously we're carrying a lot of relievers. Ross will get the start tomorrow, and at that point in time we're just going to play the matchup game, and like we always do we're going to find a way to get through it."
Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.