"I mentioned [Jonathon] Broxton is our closer. He said, 'That's not important to me,' and I'm not surprised," said manager Joe Torre, who spoke to Sherrill on Thursday after he was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for two Minor Leaguers.
"He'll pitch in the eighth and ninth," Torre said. "He gives experienced backup to our situation. He's going to help us."
In addition to Broxton, the Dodgers' bullpen consists of setup man Ramon Troncoso; Hong-Chih Kuo (recently returned from three months on the disabled list); veterans Guillermo Mota and Jeff Weaver; and rookies James McDonald and Scott Elbert (called up Thursday when Brent Leach was optioned to Triple-A).
Also, Cory Wade is on a rehab assignment and Ronald Belisario, a key to the club's first-half success, is expected to begin a rehab assignment next week.
But after another bullpen loss on Wednesday, the Dodgers need help now. General manager Ned Colletti said Sherrill has the experience of pressure pitching in the competitive American League East. He'll join the club in Atlanta on Friday.
"You know you're getting somebody a cut above," Colletti said.
"It teaches you to be on your game night in and night out," Sherrill said of pitching in that division. "The whole AL East has tough hitters, top team to bottom team." Colletti said Sherrill has the personality that will fit well in the Dodgers' clubhouse, something that has become something of a prerequisite for recent Colletti acquisitions.
Sherrill expressed mixed emotions with the trade, regretting he won't be able to watch the results of the Orioles' rebuilding, while "excited" to join a first-place team and content to go from closer to setup if it means winning.
"It doesn't matter what my role is," he said. "I've never been part of a winner. Now I go to a team with the best record in the league. As long as we're winning, it doesn't matter to me. I know Broxton is a good closer. I'll take the ball every day."
In return, the Orioles received slugging third baseman Josh Bell and pitcher Steve Johnson.
Sherrill, 32, had a 2.40 ERA and 20 saves in 42 games with the Orioles this year.
In his fourth full Major League season, Sherrill earns $2.75 million and is eligible for salary arbitration next year.
Bell, 22, was hitting .296 with 11 homers and 52 RBIs for Double-A Chattanooga. He was a fourth-round Draft pick in 2005. Johnson, 22, was 8-4 with a 3.82 ERA at Class A Inland Empire. He was a 13th-round pick in 2005.
Colletti said he could afford to part with Bell because Casey Blake is signed for another two seasons, Blake DeWitt is a phone call away and Pedro Baez has been impressive at Class A. They always draft heavy on pitching.
"To pick up an All-Star closer in the position we're in, we're not in a position to trade a no-name with no chance to get out of A-ball," he said. "Baltimore got quality back today. The depth of our organization at these positions helped us cross the bridge on both players."
The acquisition of Sherrill follows a Colletti pattern of making Deadline trades without dealing away significant pieces of the current Major League club.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.