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Dodgers Dugout: Giants have the best overall bullpen in the NL West

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is  Houston Mitchell, reminding you not to make too much out of spring training stats because they usually don’t mean a thing. Although we would all feel better if Joc Pederson wasn’t one for seven with six strikeouts.

The bullpen

Continuing our rankings of the NL West teams at various positions, let’s turn to the bullpen (not counting closers). If you want to see the infield comparison, go here; outfield, go here; starting rotation, go here and closer, go here.

First, let’s look at where the NL West teams ranked last season in a couple of bullpen categories:

ERA

1. San Francisco, 3.33 (3rd overall in NL)

2. Arizona, 3.56 (8th)

3. Dodgers, 3.91 (11th)

4. San Diego, 4.02 (13th)

5. Colorado, 4.70 (15th)

Blown saves

1. San Francisco, 15 (tied for third fewest in NL)

2. San Diego, 18 (6th)

3. Dodgers, 21 (tied for 8th)

3. Arizona, 21 (tied for 8th)

5. Colorado, 25 (14th)

Inherited runners who scored percentage

1. San Francisco, 21% (1st)

2. Colorado, 30% (6th)

3. Arizona, 32.2% (11th)

4. Dodgers, 32.3% (12th)

5. San Diego, 32.4% (13th)

Predicting bullpens this early is an inexact science, as there probably will be an injury or two for each team before the season starts, as well as a pitcher or two who tosses himself onto or off  the roster. With that in mind, here’s how I have ranked them, based on the entire bullpen (minus the closers). With each team are stats for who should be key members of the bullpen.

1. San Francisco Giants

Sergio Romo (Last three seasons: 11-17, 3.07 ERA, 1.9 WAR)

Javier Lopez (6-3, 2.17, 2.8)

George Kontos (10-6, 3.13, 1.5)

The Giants not only have the best bullpen in the West, you can make a case for them having the best bullpen in the National League. One recommendation to opponents: When Romo comes in, send up some lefty pinch-hitters. Last season, he held right-handed hitters to a .170 average with 64 strikeouts in 147 at-bats. If you aren’t ahead of the Giants by the seventh inning, it’s going to be very difficult to win.

2. Colorado Rockies

Chad Qualls (9-12, 3.38, 2.3)

Jake McGee (11-7, 2.78, 3.9)

Justin Miller (4-3, 4.34, 0.5)

Don’t look now, but the Rockies have put together a solid bullpen. Qualls will give up a few too many homers, but McGee is one of the best relievers around that no one has heard of.

3. Dodgers

Chris Hatcher (3-9, 4.25, -0.1)

Joe Blanton (7-2, 2.84, 1.2)

J.P. Howell (13-5, 1.97, 4.2)

Will Hatcher pitch like he did in the first half of 2015 (1-4, 6.38 ERA) or the second half (2-1, 1.31)? That will be an important thing for the Dodgers to figure out, and figure out quickly.

4. Arizona

Tyler Clippard (18-11, 2.50, 4.6)

Daniel Hudson (4-4, 4.22, -0.5)

Matt Reynolds (0-2, 2.85, 0.7)

The Diamondbacks’ bullpen this season features the reliever who gives up the most fly balls in baseball (Clippard, with a 56.6% fly ball rate) and the reliever who gives up the lowest percentage of ground balls (closer Brad Ziegler, with a 16.1% rate).

5. San Diego Padres

Jon Edwards (0-0, 4.32, 0.0)

Nick Vincent (7-6, 2.82, 1.5)

Drew Pomeranz (10-14, 3.46, 1.8)

The Padres are counting on Edwards to be ready for the set-up position after losing Joaquin Benoit to the Mariners. Edwards throws hard but isn’t always sure where the ball will end up.

So, using the same system as before, seven points for finishing first, five for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for last, the rankings are (yeah, I know you can figure it out yourself):

San Francisco, 7 points

Colorado, 5

Dodgers, 3

Arizona, 2

San Diego, 1

Which means, after comparing the position players, the rotation, the closers and now the bullpen, the tally is:

1. Dodgers, 72 points

2. San Francisco, 71

3. Arizona, 55

4. Colorado, 46

5. San Diego, 26

We still have the bench to go.

In case you missed it

MLB canceled its two-day suspension of Chase Utley after his hard slide in last season’s playoffs broke the leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.

“I talked to Joe Torre at length on the phone, and he expressed to me that what happened in the playoffs, after looking at other slides over the course of the years, it was not much different,” Utley said. “Obviously it was four or five months ago, but at the end of the day, I believe that he believes the slide was not illegal. Therefore, there should be no suspension. It was a tough situation for everyone. You never want to see an opposing player get hurt, ever.”

TV situation

Just a reminder that Vin Scully is heading into his final season, and most of us still can’t watch the Dodgers on TV. A lot of people have emailed me to ask how they can contact the Dodgers or Time Warner or their local cable/satellite provider so they can give their opinion of the TV debacle. Here you go:

For the Dodgers, click here or call 866-DODGERS (866-363-4377)

For Time Warner, click here.

For your local cable or satellite provider, consult your bill for the customer service number and for the website.

And if you get a response, let me know and I will run it in a future Dodgers Dugout.

And finally

Who is going to bat leadoff for the Dodgers this season? Dave Roberts isn’t sure. Read all about it here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston

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