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Dodgers' left-handed rotation could make for busy right-handed relievers

If the Dodgers rotation looks like it will side with the liberals, the bullpen could lean distinctively conservative.

The Dodgers are scheduled to start four left-handers in their rotation in 2015 – Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Brett Anderson and either Hyun-Jin Ryu or Alex Wood.

And if teams are stacking lineups with right-handed hitters to face this throng of left-handed starting pitchers, it only figures the Dodgers will typically first go to a right-hander out of the bullpen.

A bullpen full of right-handers is nothing new for the Dodgers. It was not uncommon in the last three years for J.P. Howell to find himself the lone left-hander in the bullpen.

But last year there was more typically two – or even three and four. At different times left-handers Adam Liberatore, Paco Rodriguez, Daniel Coulombe, David Huff and Luis Avilan all took turns in the bullpen with Howell.

This year Howell and Avilan are expected to hold down two left-handed spots. The right-handers will likely be Kenley Jansen, Chris Hatcher, Pedro Baez, Joe Blanton and Yimi Garcia.

Since Jansen has the ninth inning and Hatcher is earmarked as the set-up man, a lot of early calls could be going to Blanton, Baez and Garcia. Which if nothing else, should be interesting.

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Blanton apparently re-invented himself as a reliever last season, after a couple of highly forgettable seasons with the Dodgers (4.99 ERA in 2012) and Angels (2-14, 6.04 ERA in 2013). After sitting out a year, he came back as a reliever in 2015 and went 7-2 with a 2.84 ERA in 36 games.

Baez had a 3.35 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 52 games last season, but faded badly. He had a 5.51 ERA in his last 20 appearances and was crushed in two brief postseason appearances. The smoking fastball suddenly had little movement.

Garcia got off to a sensational start – a 0.63 ERA and 23 strikeouts in his first 14 appearances (14 1/3 innings) – and then turned awful – a 7.94 ERA in his next 14 games. Soon, he was sent back to the minors. He was more good than bad the rest of the way, but inconsistency marked his season.

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That’s a lot of right-handed uncertainty for a bullpen that figures to typically call early to its conservative side.

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