Dodgers’ Blake Treinen injury bombshell latest challenge bullpen must survive

The Los Angeles Dodgers have possessed one of the strongest, deepest bullpens in baseball thus far in 2022, packed with piggyback starters and late-inning flamethrowers. They’ve mostly done it without right-hander Blake Treinen, save for three innings, who entered the season as the presumptive closer closer – before a preemptive strike for Craig Kimbrel.

The Dodgers will have to hope their current formula continues to hold past the All-Star Break, though, after the weekend bombshell that Treinen’s downplayed stiffness would, in fact, keep him on the shelf through most of July.

No surgery is needed at this point, but Treinen has yet to pick up a baseball, and his current level of progress now has team management writing him off for two additional months.

All of this from an injury that needed a “couple days off” at first? Just another storm for the league’s best roster to weather – yes, even in the ‘pen.

Dodgers’ bullpen projections without Blake Treinen, Victor González

Ah, right! The Dodgers lost Victor González over the weekend, too. He’ll undergo arthroscopic surgery, which could allow him to return on a similar trajectory to Treinen, or could keep him on the shelf for the entire season.

Of course, Treinen does not exactly have a “trajectory,” either. At this point, it’s all hearsay from a team that has watched plenty of impactful arms step up in the sinker specialist’s absence, and has chosen to hope that continues rather than bother with timelines.

So far, so good for the bullpen bandaids. Phil Bickford has repeated his 2021 breakout, and will likely see a slide up the leverage ladder. Evan Phillips, who felt like the lowest man on the totem pole entering 2022, has uncorked some ridiculous mind-bending sliders and whiffed 13 in 11 innings (with a 4.09 ERA after a recent blowup against Detroit).

Perhaps most important for the depth chart, Tommy Kahnle has returned from 1.5 years of Tommy John rehab with two scoreless, in-control outings. Kahnle’s changeup might just end up subbing for Treinen’s sinker one-for-one.

While ticking Treinen off the depth chart objectively hurts the Dodgers, this team has shown a special ability to rehabilitate “lost soul” bullpen arms and turn electric hurlers with one elite pitch into useful assets.

Reading Roberts’ updates may have stung, but there’s more than enough meat on this bone to make most ardent fans forget about Treinen’s contributions, only to recall upon his return how impactful he can be.

And, if said return coincides with Dustin May’s comeback… look out.

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