LOS ANGELES – Opening Day to the 2015 MLB season is less than 48 hours away, but for the Los Angeles Dodgers there are still issues that need to be resolved before the doors open at Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers enter into the season with the largest payroll in baseball at $273 million and high hopes to make the World Series for the first time since 1988. They have the offense and defense on the field to keep their stranglehold atop the National League West, but is their bullpen their Achilles heel?

The bullpen was their biggest issue and ultimately their downfall in the 2014 postseason as they lost in four games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, the second consecutive season the Red Birds ousted them. They made a lot of big signings last offseason and none of them panned out properly. This winter, their only big bullpen acquisitions were trades for Juan Nicasio, Joel Peralta and Chris Hatcher. Now with Opening Day just moments away, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has a lot of figuring out to do with the bullpen.

One of the biggest needs for the bullpen is a long reliever. Veteran hurler Jamey Wright held that spot last year but went on to tryout for the Texas Rangers this spring. The Dodgers traded for Nicasio – and by “trade”, they really just bought him and filed it under “cash considerations” – assuming that would be his job. However, Nicasio struggled through spring with a 6.75 ERA.

Wright was recently released by the Rangers, so he could be an option for the Dodgers if they don’t have the answer yet. Despite struggling, Nicasio did strike out 11 batters in 12 innings this spring, so he could be better suited for a one-inning role as a middle reliever.

Which serves as the perfect transition to the middle and anchor of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Closer Kenley Jansen is recovering from foot surgery and will start the season on the disabled list until at least late-April, and Brandon League is long gone due to shoulder inflammation. All signs point to Hatcher to be the interim guy, even though he had a spring just as rough as Nicasio.

Hatcher, who was acquired with Kike Hernandez, Austin Barnes and Andrew Heaney from the Miami Marlins in the Dee Gordon trade, was originally a catcher in the minor leagues. In his first full season in the big leagues, Hatcher posted a 3.38 ERA in 52 appearances while also striking out 60 batters in 56 innings pitched. He rarely received any major assignments such as the eighth or ninth inning, so should he be anointed the closer, this would be his biggest role yet.

Should he falter, the Dodgers do have J.P. Howell and Peralta to back him up. Both relievers have closing experience but are better suited as set-up men. In all honesty, Paco Rodriguez deserves the closer role more than any Dodger reliever. In 10.2 spring innings, the 23-year-old reliever from Miami Beach, FL, allowed zero runs and only four hits along with 13 strikeouts. While everyone else was struggling, Rodriguez was thriving.

“We’ll just play it out,” Mattingly said. “You’ll have to stay tuned. It’s a fluid situation.”

The bullpen looks like a mess now. But hopefully by the All-Star game, relievers will separate themselves from the pack and a glaring weakness can become a solidifying strength.