2022 MLB Playoffs: Dodgers’ unheralded relievers come through in Game 1 win

By Pedro Moura
FOX Sports MLB Writer

LOS ANGELES — Much of the Dodgers’ 2022 roster qualifies as a veritable superteam, up to it has ever been throughout this ancient decade of luck. But their postseason opener Tuesday at Dodger Stadium underscored simply how a lot those superstars’ fates will relaxation at the efforts of an unheralded, unsure team of relievers.

Behind a affected person offense and an competitive get started from ace Julio Urías, the Dodgers raced to an early lead towards the Padres. But when San Diego started to hit Urías arduous, the Dodgers grew to become to a brand new quartet to take on 4 innings with just one run’s price of margin for error. Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia, Brusdar Graterol and Chris Martin, in that order, connected to protected the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory in Game 1 of this National League Division Series.

That foursome isn’t precisely the established again finish the 2015 Kansas City Royals rode to a World Series win. They’re no longer even the established again finish of the 2022 Dodgers’ bullpen. Until Tuesday, the 4 relievers had seemed in precisely one recreation in combination — and in nearly the opposite order. Together, they earned about $4.7 million this season, no longer one-tenth of what Craig Kimbrel and David Price in combination won. Neither Kimbrel nor Price made the Dodgers’ NLDS roster.

This, despite the fact that, used to be what the Dodgers sought after Tuesday. No one else warmed in their bullpen. Before the collection is over, despite the fact that, because the Padres regulate to those relievers, L.A. may ship out a completely new batch to keep every other lead.

“I loved it, but we certainly could see something completely different tomorrow,” Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts mentioned later on. “I don’t want to show my hand too much, but it just kind of is the luxury of the latitude that we have with our guys.”

MLB Playoffs: Dodgers vs. Padres NLDS Game 1 recap

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Ben Verlander and Alex Curry react to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game 1 win over the San Diego Padres in the NLDS.

You’ll listen this week that the Dodgers’ relievers don’t have roles, that they’re summoned into video games with out a advance understand. That’s no longer precisely proper. They do have roles, simply no longer of the normal selection. Before video games or early in them, pitching coaches tell relievers what stretch of the opposing lineup they’re more likely to face and in which state of affairs: profitable or shedding. On instance, they’ll point out a couple of conceivable situations. If that’s the case, bullpen trainer Josh Bard will alert a reliever each and every time a type of situations arises.

“What we have to do to physically prepare ourselves maybe varies on a daily basis,” Phillips mentioned. “But they do a good job of getting us prepared for each situation that we could be called upon for.”

Phillips knew earlier than Tuesday’s first pitch that he’d be tasked with retiring the Padres’ center of the order, particularly Manny Machado, if the Dodgers have been profitable. The Padres anticipated that, too. It so took place that the location arose to start the 6th, after Roberts determined towards leaving Urías in to stand the left-handed Juan Soto

Lacking command of his breaking ball, Phillips discovered hassle. He additionally discovered an break out in the type of a slick, inning-ending double-play grew to become through Gavin Lux and Trea Turner

Vesia adopted and struck out the aspect in the 7th round one Trent Grisham unmarried. Roberts returned to Vesia for 2 extra batters in the 8th, then Graterol to stand Machado. That inning didn’t take lengthy. Neither did Martin’s 11-pitch 9th, excellent for his tenth occupation major-league save.

Graterol, the one one of the crucial 4 to ever earn any type of prospect standing, signed for a paltry $150,000 out of Venezuela 8 years in the past. The different 3 males have been drafted a blended 4 instances, by no means upper than in the seventeenth spherical. Fourteen months in the past, each and every major-league crew opted to not declare Phillips on waivers. Twenty months in the past, the lowly Marlins gave up on Vesia. Martin, a 36-year-old veteran of Nippon Professional Baseball, is self-admittedly “boring.”

They are all missing long observe data, however all of them be offering enough stuff. Phillips’ effects have been elite all yr. As lengthy as he limits his walks, Vesia can excel. Martin ruled after his trade-deadline acquisition. Across the game, few relievers prohibit homers higher than Graterol.

“They did a really good job leaning in to their strengths,” catcher Will Smith mentioned in their Game 1 efforts.

Trea Turner displays at the Dodgers’ Game 1 win

Trea Turner reflects on the Dodgers' Game 1 win

Trea Turner talks concerning the Dodgers’ NLDS Game 1 win over the Padres in a postgame interview with Tom Verducci.

More than ever, the 2022 Dodgers are leaning in to World Series expectancies. One video clip performed between innings Tuesday featured a snippet of Dave Roberts’ preseason ensure — “We’re gonna win the World Series in 2022” — at the Dan Patrick Show.

Their offense started the sport enjoying like a World Series winner, balancing endurance with seizing on Mike Clevinger‘s errors. That offense then light over the overall six innings towards San Diego’s stout bullpen.

It used to be the Dodgers’ bullpen, then, that produced this victory. They received’t want to be as answerable for each and every of the ten extra required to win all of it, however in no matter order, those relievers will most probably want to save no less than a couple of extra.

Pedro Moura is the nationwide baseball author for FOX Sports. He in the past coated the Dodgers for The Athletic, the Angels and Dodgers for the Orange County Register and L.A. Times, and his alma mater, USC, for ESPN Los Angeles. He is the writer of “How to Beat a Broken Game.” Follow him on Twitter @pedromoura.


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