In the Dodgers dramatic, 10-inning win Tuesday night against Oakland, the Dodger bullpen had to come in and threw 79 pitches in 4.1 innings until Matt Kemp’s single ended the game. It feeds the growing belief that the Dodgers bullpen is doing a great job but is overworked and that could mean another post-season meltdown.
Except, anyone saying that is flat out wrong. What happened Tuesday night was the exception to the rule.
Dodger relievers have thrown only four pitches per game more than the MLB average and only 11 pitches per game more than the least-used bullpen in the majors. Considering those 11 pitches have been divided over a relief corps numbering seven or eight pitchers at a time, the number seems objectively inconsequential.
As for the Dodgers' three most valuable relievers in 2009 -- Jonathan Broxton, Ramon Troncoso and Ronald Belisario -- the data remains the same as it was when I posted about this two weeks ago.
Broxton, the team's top reliever, has thrown more than 20 pitches in consecutive games twice this year, Each time, he got at least two days' rest afterward. Every time Ramon Troncoso or Ronald Belisario has thrown more than 25 pitches in a game, he has gotten the next day off.
Or look at it this way — the Dodgers are ninth in the league in average pitches per game by its relief corps. That is pretty close to the top of the bell curve, right in the middle of the pack.
Before the season, the question around the Dodgers is would the pitching be good enough to get wins for a powerful offense. Lately, the question has really been with the slumping Dodgers offense score enough runs for the best pitching staff in baseball (if you go by team ERA, which is a pretty good measure).
And while the bullpen pitching has been great, it has not been too much. Now that we’ve covered that, can we get back to the important things — like that countdown to Manny’s return.