Chris Withrow had a 1.88 earned-run average and 35 strikeouts in his 28 2/3… (Ron Vesely / MLB Photos via…)
Let’s count, because we do that a lot watching baseball. Numbers are everywhere. Whether you are a traditionalist or convinced WAR is the greatest number ever, this is for everyone.
Count with me now: Kenley Jansen, Brian Wilson, J.P. Howell, Paco Rodriguez, Brandon League, Chris Perez, Chris Withrow and Jamey Wright.
Backward or forward, that’s eight, right? Eight relievers all understandably planning on being part of the Dodgers’ 2014 bullpen.
And that’s not even counting bullpen candidates Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert, Onelki Garcia, Jose Dominguez and Yimi Garcia.
The trouble with eight is, there only figures to be seven spots available in the Dodgers bullpen. This means barring injury, one of those eight is not going to be on the team’s opening day roster.
And incredibly, the odd man out appears to be … Withrow?
Withrow was a hard-throwing semi-sensation in the second half last season (1.88 earned-run average, 35 strikeouts in his 28 2/3 innings) and it’s difficult to fathom they would actually open the season with the right-hander back at triple-A Albuquerque.
But if you assume they will have him, then it’s almost as if they are counting on another reliever coming up lame in the spring. At 24, he is oddly the most likely candidate.
Jansen is the closer, with the three ex-closers Wilson, Perez and League backing him up, Howell and Rodriguez as the left-handers and Wright the multi-inning guy.
And Withrow in the minors?
Bullpens are lucky to stay intact through the first week of the season, so it’s hardly like starting the year in the minors would be a season-long sentence. Bet Withrow will spend most of the season on the 25-man roster. As every general manager would say, it’s much better to have too much than not enough.
Although last spring, the Dodgers had too much, had to release Kevin Gregg and he signed with the White Sox and saved 33 games.
These things have a way of working themselves out, but if all eight emerge from spring training healthy, it will at least initially be very interesting in the bullpen.