Don't look now but Dodgers bullpen suddenly has it rolling

Don't look now but Dodgers bullpen suddenly has it rolling
Relief pitcher Joel Peralta celebrates with catcher Yasmani Grandal after recording his third save of the year in the Dodgers' 6-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on April 18. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

It was something of an uneven start. Some might have said even scary.

The great unknown of this year's Dodgers team is the bullpen. Then in their first six games, it allowed eight earned runs in 18 innings and the concern level wasn't exactly dissipating.


Only now something else is going on, something much more on the encouraging side. In their last five games, the bullpen has allowed exactly one earned run in 17 1/3 innings.

"They've kind of settled in," said Manager Don Mattingly. "We have a number of weapons out there with guys you feel comfortable going to, a lot of different guys who are throwing the ball well.

"Right now things are good out there."

Right now, the bullpen still awaits the mid-May return of closer Kenley Jansen. With Jansen sidelined after a foot surgery, Chris Hatcher has saved one game and Joel Peralta three. Friday night rookie Matt Liberatore, making his major-league debut, pitched a scoreless ninth.

"We have a great group of guys out there, young and veteran guys," Peralta said. "Right now we are just attacking hitters, trying to get ahead of guys and get outs."

The only relievers to really struggle early were Hatcher, and to a lesser extent, J.P. Howell. Only now Howell is unscored upon in his last three outings, and Hatcher hasn’t allowed a run or a hit in his last three appearances

Peralta's three saves are the most he's had since his career-high six in 2011.

"I like the chances they give me to pitch in the ninth inning," Peralta said. "But I consider any of us out there can go pitch in the ninth inning. And I think when Mattingly believes the matchup is going to be better in the eighth inning, he's going to bring me in the eighth. He's not like, 'You're the closer.' The closer is Jansen. When he gets back he's going to have the ninth inning."

The bullpen killed the Dodgers in the second half of last season and again in the playoffs. It was almost completely revamped in the off-season. It is, of course, still very early but the signs now are at least promising.

Follow Steve Dilbeck on Twitter @stevedilbeck