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Dodgers use bullpen game to beat Giants. Why more are expected this season

Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

Clayton Kershaw would have loved to see Tyler Glasnow square off against Logan Webb on Tuesday night.

A national television audience on TBS, surely, would have too.

Instead, in the Dodgers’ 5-4 win against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium, it was Webb vs. Ryan Brasier… and Ryan Yarbrough… and Michael Grove … and the two other pitchers the Dodgers used in the first of what is likely to be many bullpen games this year.

“We’ve been doing it for quite some time,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I think we’ve been a lot of trailblazers for some ideas that have come with some resistance.”

Indeed, anyone surprised that the club was already opting for such a patchwork pitching plan this early in the season probably shouldn’t be.

Over the last several years, as Roberts noted, the Dodgers have increasingly prioritized starting pitcher rest. The days of letting their rotation members actually take the ball once every five days have passed. Now, the team wants its starters getting five, six, even seven days off as often as possible, in hopes of preserving their health and maximizing their performance when they are on the mound.

 

That means, when choosing between a normal cycle through the rotation, or an occasional spot start/bullpen game to push everyone else back an extra day, expect the club to pick the latter as often as it can.

“Ultimately,” Roberts said of giving his rotation extra rest, “we feel that their recovery is better and they perform better over the long haul.”

Thanks to the Dodgers’ widely envied ability to replenish pitching depth — through prospect development, savvy player personnel decisions and a trademark ability to help overlooked veteran arms make marginal improvements — they can do so without necessarily sacrificing success.

Tuesday night offered the latest example.

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