Experience counts in the Dodgers’ bullpen, but how much is needed?

Kevin Gregg

Kevin Gregg is trying to make the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee to spring training. (AP)

A year ago, the Dodgers’ bullpen lacked experience. Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen, the primary ninth and eighth-inning pitchers, had little more than two years’ service time between them. Josh Lindblom and Scott Elbert had only become full-time major league pitchers the year before.

So the Dodgers kept Todd Coffey and Mike MacDougal on their Opening Day roster despite brutal springs and signed Jamey Wright, a 37-year-old non-roster invitee. (Wright worked out, MacDougal didn’t, and Coffey had season-ending elbow surgery in July.)

This year, it seems like the need for veteran help is not as great. Jansen and Guerra are a year older and the closer, Brandon League, made his major-league debut in 2004. So did Matt GuerrierJ.P. Howell debuted in 2005. Ronald Belisario turned 30 in December. They may be joined by graybeards Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and/or Aaron Harang.

So what’s the need for a non-roster veteran like 34-year-old Kevin Gregg or Peter Moylan, who turns 28 in April?

“We’re still fairly young out there,” manager Don Mattingly said, “so it’s nice to have leadership out there in the ‘pen, guys who have been out there for a season and played on some championship-type teams. I’m not opposed to having experience out there for those guys. Brandon’s fairly young still at the closer role. Obviously the guys setting him up … are younger. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of experience out there.”

Still, it seems like experience alone won’t get Gregg and Moylan onto the Opening Day roster — both will need a strong spring training.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.