In a week when all eyes were on Rich Hill's historic, and historically unfortunate, performance -- nine no-hit innings against the Pirates, followed by a walk-off home run allowed in the 10th inning of a scoreless game -- it might be easy to overlook the Dodgers' relief corps.And yet, as
In a week when all eyes were on Rich Hill's historic, and historically unfortunate, performance -- nine no-hit innings against the Pirates, followed by a walk-off home run allowed in the 10th inning of a scoreless game -- it might be easy to overlook the Dodgers' relief corps.
And yet, as Los Angeles breached the 90-win mark with more than a month of the regular season left to go, its bullpen was once again a major part of a juggernaut clicking on all cylinders. That is why the Dodgers have this week's MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford.
As part of the MLB Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2017 season, MLB.com is honoring the "Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford." 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 all 30 Major League teams with a bullpen rating of 132 points this week, thanks to their relievers' sterling 1.86 ERA over 29 innings, the second-most innings pitched of any bullpen during the week. They notched four saves, one in each of the team's wins this week -- two by closer Kenley Jansen and one each by Thomas Stripling and Brandon Morrow. Dodgers relievers also struck out a Major League-high 37 batters, more than double the number of hits they allowed (17).
Jansen, especially, was on top of his game. Is he ever not? On the back of his trademark cutter, the big right-hander has become one of the elite relievers in the game -- and arguably baseball's best. This week was more of the same. Jansen, who has never led the National League in saves, is fast closing the gap on struggling Rockies closer Greg Holland. With his two saves this week, Kenley has 35, just one behind Holland for the NL lead.
But Jansen can't pitch every inning -- and the Dodgers still have the arms around him to shut a game down. They proved that on Monday.
The unexpected: In Los Angeles' series opener at Pittsburgh, the Pirates managed to rally in the eighth inning against Tony Watson and Pedro Baez. The Dodgers held Jansen back until the 10th, but when he came in, the game was still tied ... and it was still tied when he exited for the 11th. Without their closer, the Dodgers still had more outs to get.
How they prevailed:Luis Avilan and Stripling. It was next arm up for the Dodgers, and the two relievers who followed Jansen were up to the task. First, Avilan fired a scoreless 11th, and in the top of the 12th, Yasiel Puig homered to give Los Angeles a one-run lead.
On came Stripling to close things out. The Pirates got the potential winning runs aboard in the bottom of the 12th, but with two outs, Stripling induced a deep lineout from Max Moroff to end the game.
That was just the first day of the week. But it set the tone for the Dodgers, who were able to edge out some of the week's other top bullpens, like the Marlins (the runner-up with 104 points) and the Angels (third place, 88.5 points).
The Marlins' bullpen was buoyed by the continued strong pitching of veteran closer Brad Ziegler, who saved three games during the week and pitched four scoreless innings overall as Miami improved to 66-63 to get back into the NL Wild Card race.
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.