Dodgers Dugout: Will the next Dodgers closer please stand up?

Evan Phillips
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the regular season ends next Wednesday. The Dodgers will open their postseason Oct. 11.

The wish of many Dodgers fans came true: Craig Kimbrel is no longer the closer.

Kimbrel had surrendered a home run to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the top of the ninth inning in Thursday’s game, a homer that gave Arizona the lead. (The Dodgers rallied to win.) On Friday, Dave Roberts said:

“I just think that right now, um, I’m going to keep Craig down tonight. And my expectation is, yeah, I talked to him today. Right now the plan is to change roles and get him into a position to pitch in different innings in different situations. He was very open to doing whatever is best for the ballclub. So I feel good about it and we’ll see where that takes us.”

The new closer is?

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No one specific.

The Dodgers will use a closer-by-committee approach, meaning whatever matchup works best each game is what will be done. If it makes the most sense for Evan Phillips to pitch the eighth and Alex Vesia the ninth because of the way the opposing lineup is constructed, then that’s what will happen. If it makes more sense to pitch Vesia in the eighth and Phillips in the ninth, then that’s what will happen. Or Brusdar Graterol. Or Chris Martin.

Phillips, for one, is fine with that.

“I don’t really value that role any higher than what I do now,” Phillips said. “I think the [Dodgers] really instilled in us that when the phone rings, you go out there and get your outs. So regardless of the situation, and it might be the ninth inning or a tight ballgame, however you want to phrase it, my challenge is that when the phone rings, I do my job.”

Each of the four relievers mentioned above should do fine pitching the ninth. There have been pitchers in the past (Antonio Osuna springs to mind) who couldn’t handle the pressure of closing out a game. If you asked me to pick a closer, I’d probably go with Phillips, followed by Martin, Vesia and Graterol.

Here’s the Dodgers’ bullpen right now:

Evan Phillips, 6-3, 1.22 ERA, 59 IP, 29 hits, 15 walks, 69 K’s, 2 saves, 22.7% IRS% (5 of 22 runners scored)
Chris Martin, 3-1, 1.64 ERA, 22 IP, 10 hits, 1 walks, 28 K’s, 2 saves, 0% IRS% (0 of 8)
Caleb Ferguson, 1-0, 1.97 ERA, 32 IP, 19 hits, 12 walks, 33 K’s, 0% (0 of 3)
Alex Vesia, 4-0, 2.26 ERA, 51.2 IP, 35 hits, 24 walks, 75 K’s, 1 save, 28% (7 of 25)
Brusdar Graterol, 2-3, 2.89 ERA, 46.2 IP, 34 hits, 10 walks, 41 K’s, 3 saves, 33.3% (8 of 24)
Craig Kimbrel, 6-6, 4.07 ERA, 55.1 IP, 50 hits, 23 walks, 65 K’s, 22 saves, 5 blown saves, 33.3% (1 of 3)
Tommy Kahnle, 0-0, 4.15 ERA, 8.2 IP, 3 hits, 3 walks, 11 K’s, (0 of 0)
Phil Bickford, 2-1, 4.72 ERA, 61 IP, 53 hits, 14 walks, 67 K’s, 41.7% (5 of 12)

Note: The league average for IRS% is 34%

On the injured list, perhaps to return:

Yency Almonte, 0-0, 1.15 ERA, 31.1 IP, 18 hits, 10 walks, 30 K’s, 1 save, 28.6% (2 of 7)
Blake Treinen, 1-1, 1.80 ERA, 5 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 6 K’s, (0 of 0)
David Price, 2-0, 2.58 ERA, 38.1 IP, 37 hits, 8 walks, 37 K’s, 1 save, 33.3% (4 of 12)

All of the pitchers above, except Bickford, have done better than Kimbrel this season.

The question is, which of the above pitchers make the postseason roster? Will any of the pitchers on the IL return in time? Teams can carry 13 pitchers in the postseason.


Next time, we will look at a potential postseason roster, which will be hard to do because ...

Dustin May to the IL

Dustin May was put on the 15-day injured list because of tightness in his lower back. He will not pitch the rest of the regular season, but Roberts said he hopes to have him back for the National League Division Series. Of course, we heard last year that everyone hoped Max Muncy would be back each round of the playoffs and later learned that was never a real possibility. I hope to get a new Maserati for Christmas, but I don’t expect to get one. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. This makes the Dodgers’ postseason rotation look like this:

Julio Urías
Clayton Kershaw
Tyler Anderson
Andrew Heaney

Will Tony Gonsolin be back in time? He is expected to make a rehabilitation start soon. Will May really be back? Stay tuned for the next chapter of “As the Rotation Turns.”

What have they done lately?

A look at how players the Dodgers traded at the deadline have done on their new teams:

Garrett Cleavinger, Tampa Bay, 1-0, 3.07 ERA, 14.2 IP, 7 hits, 2 walks, 20 K’s

Jake Lamb, Seattle, .167/.265/.300, 66 OPS+, released by Mariners


Zach McKinstry, Chicago Cubs, .209/.274/.358, 76 OPS+

Mitch White, Toronto, 0-4, 7.39 ERA, 35.1 IP, 47 hits, 12 walks, 26 K’s

What Vin Scully meant to you

From Gary Schultze: In 1973, my dad took the family to our first Dodgers game. The Dodgers were playing the Mets. He wanted us to see Tom Seaver pitch. The Dodgers also had a bunch of up-and-coming 20-somethings. Garvey, Cey, Lopes, Russell, Yeager, Ferguson, etc., he wanted us to see. He had been to the first Dodgers game at the Coliseum when he was a senior in high school. My dad had a transistor radio that was the size of a large cellphone today. It had the one ear output. I listened to Vin at the game for the first time. It was magical. My parents bought me a radio. I fell asleep for the next eight years listening to Vin and Bob Miller. I cried when they announced Vin had passed. My dad passed in 2017. My daughter is a third-generation Dodgers fan because of my dad and Vin. She is a third-generation Vin fan. I think Al Michaels said it best: “What person is successful in any job for 67 years?” There was never before nor will there be anyone after like Vin Scully.

Michael Scanlon of Angelino Heights: In 1978, at the height of my Dodgers fandom, I listened to every game, which meant I brought my transistor radio to restaurants, bike rides, classrooms, vacations, parks, jobs and even movie theaters.

Los Angeles is so big and spread out, we seldom are able to get out and really know all of the various neighborhoods and the diverse population. Vinny worked as our social common denominator, L.A.’s ambassador to other Angelenos. He was our friend, father, grandfather, sibling and neighbor. If you were sitting in your car, feeling that sense of social isolation, Vinny was always available to you, by the click of the dial.

Gene Dewey of Rancho Palos Verdes: Driving home one evening in 1990 from Unocal’s rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, Calif., I was listening to Vin Scully announce the Dodgers game. When he announced the winner of a free trip, by calling the letter of the stadium row by one of the player’s last names. He called reserve level, Row H, (Mike Hartley, a pitcher) seat 17, then he immediately said: “That reminds me, the Dodgers have a dear longtime friend, Fred Hartley, Chairman of Unocal, who is fighting a long illness. We wish him all the best.” Unocal and the Dodgers had a close relationship from the time they came to Los Angles. Unocal was the only advertiser in Dodger Stadium or the parking lots at the time.

A few weeks later at Unocal’s 100 anniversary party, held at The Natural History Museum , I was introduced to Vin by Unocal’s VP of PR. I immediately told him how I was touched by him remembering of our retired chairman, Fred Hartley. He said it was spontaneous and heartfelt. I said, “ I hope Mr. Hartley heard it .“ The VP of PR said I’ll make sure he does.


The last two weeks

Let’s see how everyone has been doing the last two weeks, through Sunday:

Justin Turner, .342/.413/.439, 4 doubles, 3 RBIs
Will Smith, .318/.375/.568, 1 double, 2 triples, 2 homers, 4 RBIs
Freddie Freeman, .282/.429/.385, 1 double, 1 homer, 5 RBIs
Cody Bellinger, .265/.306/.412, 5 doubles, 5 RBIs
Max Muncy, .239/.327/.457, 4 doubles, 2 homers, 7 RBIs
Austin Barnes, .235/.316/.412, 1 homer, 2 RBIs
Trea Turner, .220/.278/.300, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 RBI
Miguel Vargas, .211/.21/.368, 1 homer, 3 RBIs
Gavin Lux, .200/.200/.240, 1 double
Trayce Thompson, .194/.290/.484, 3 homers, 7 RBIs
Joey Gallo, .185/.333/.444, 1 double, 2 homers, 7 RBIs
Chris Taylor, .184/.279/.290, 1 double, 1 homer, 4 RBIs
Hanser Alberto, .167/.167/.167, 2 for 12
Mookie Betts, .163/.196/.306, 1 double, 2 homers, 7 RBIs
Team: .235/.309/.388, 21 doubles, 3 triples, 15 homers, 4 runs per game.

Starting pitchers

Tyler Anderson, 0.00 ERA, 13 IP, 7 hits, 4 walks, 8 K’s
Clayton Kershaw, 1.42 ERA, 19 IP, 15 hits, 2 walks, 22 K’s
Julio Urías, 1.59 ERA, 11.1 IP, 8 hits, 2 walks, 13 K’s
Michael Grove, 3.60 ERA, 15 IP, 14 hits, 3 walks, 14 K’s
Andrew Heaney, 4.70 ERA, 7.2 IP, 6 hits, 3 walks, 13 K’s
Dustin May, 5.00 ERA, 9 IP, 7 hits, 3 walks, 78K’s


Evan Phillips, 0.00 ERA, 5.2 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 8 K’s
Chris Martin, 0.00 ERA, 5.1 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 8 K’s, 1 save
Caleb Ferguson, 3.60 ERA, 5 IP, 7 hits, 1 walk, 5 K’s
Andre Jackson, 0.00 ERA, 3.2 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 4 K’s, 1 save
Ryan Pepiot, 0.00 ERA, 3 IP, 1 hit, 1 walks, 4 K’s
Brusdar Graterol, 0.00 ERA, 2 IP, 2 hits, 0 walks, 2 K’s
Alex Vesia, 1.80 ERA, 5 IP, 2 hits, 3 walks, 8 K’s
Tommy Kahnle, 1.93 ERA, 4.2 IP, 0 hits, 1 walk, 6 K’s
Justin Bruihl, 2.70 ERA, 3.1 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 K, 1 save
Hanser Alberto, 4.50 ERA, 2 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 K’s
Phil Bickford, 4.91 ERA, 7.1 IP, 4 hits, 0 walks, 10 K’s
Craig Kimbrel, 6.35 ERA, 5.2 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 K’s
Team: 10-4, 2.40 ERA,127.2 IP, 85 hits, 30 walks, 137 K’s

Up next

Tonight: Dodgers (*Tyler Anderson, 15-4, 2.52 ERA) at San Diego (*Blake Snell, 8-9, 3.62 ERA), 6:30 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Wednesday: Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 17-7, 2.25 ERA) at San Diego (Joe Musgrove, 10-7, 3.12 ERA), 6:30 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Thursday: Dodgers (TBD) at San Diego (TBD), 6:30 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020


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And finally

Albert Pujols hits his 700th home run. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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