There is an interesting question to ask, am I right? Do the Dodgers need a second left-hander in the Bullpen? As spring training fast approaches, the Dodgers 25 man roster is expected to be mostly set. With the bullpen already full, is there room for a second lefty? As of right now, Elbert is the only lefty expected to make the 25 man roster. If there is room, who are the choices? Let’s take a look at the Dodger’s options for a second lefty in the bullpen.
First off, the Dodgers already have one left hander in the pen, Scott Elbert. After pitching in only one game in 2010 for the big club, Elbert rebounded to have a fine year, in his first full season in the big leagues. Elbert pitched in 47 games, with a strikeout to walk line of 34/14, while posting an ERA of 2.43 and FIP of 2.73. His splits were good, holding lefties to a .191 average with 18 whiffs. Elbert has lowered his walks, and I think will be a fine loogy specialist for the Dodgers in 2012.
After Elbert, the choices for left handers dwindles down to a few guys. They traded Dana Eveland, so scratch his name from the list of potentials. The Dodgers could have brought back Hong-Chih Kuo, but instead decided to non-tender him. The Dodgers were unsure whether he would be healthy enough to pitch in 2012 after a 2011 season where he battled back soreness and an anxiety problem that led to the “yips.” Then there was the five major arm surgeries he has had that played a part in the Dodgers decision. Money did as well, since Kuo made 2.73 million dollars in 2011, and the Dodgers were hesitant to commit money to him when they are unsure whether he will be able to stay healthy for a full season.
So, with Eveland traded and Kuo non-tendered, who is left to pick from? For the most part, just non-roster guys and minor leaguers. However there are a few interesting options.
2011-Pitched in five Major League games.
2012-Does not project to make major league roster
First there is Wil Ledezma. The Dodgers rolled the dice, buying low on a light risk lottery ticket like Ledezma. Giving him a minor league contract and an invite to spring training with the big club. It makes sense besides the fact that his major league numbers are awful. What concerns me most about Ledezma’s numbers are that his splits are terrible. We’re talking about lefties hitting .303 off of him in his career, although he has kept the ball in the park and put up decent strikeout rates. Plus he only pitched in five games in 2011 for Toronto. He could be useful if there is an injury.
2. John Grabow
2011-3-1 4.76 ERA/FIP-5.08 BB/K 28/38 BB/9 4.0 SO/9 5.5
2012 projections-4.50 ERA/4.60 FIP BB/K 27/45 BB/9 4.19 SO/9 6.98
The next option is John Grabow. He is the left hander they signed away from the Chicago Cubs. I wasn’t too impressed with him initially, and didn’t like the signing. The 33 year old reliever was signed on a minor league contract and given an invite to spring training. Grabow was just awful in his two years with the Cubs. He put up atrocious walk rates of higher than 4.0 per nine. Last year Grabow was 3-1 in 58 games, and 62.1 innings pitched. He walked 28 and whiffed 38 batters for a 4.6 BB/9 rate. That’s pretty bad. His splits were decent though. He held lefties to a .244 BAA and .715 OPS. His strikeout to walk ratios are at 2:1 against lefties. If we’re looking for lefty specialists, Grabow may be the better choice than Ledezma. Grabow is projecting for a 4.50 ERA/FIP and a walk rate of over 4.0 again in 2012. It seems like from his numbers that he puts too many runners on base then has to get himself out of his own jams. He gives up too many home runs as well.
2011-10-9 4.01 ERA BB/K 42/131 BB/9 2.6 SO/9 8.0
An interesting option may come from Michael Antonini. He is the lefty they picked up from the Mets in the Chin-Lung Hu trade. Antonini has never pitched in the bigs and spent 2011 in Chattanooga, but he still put up pretty decent numbers as a starting pitcher. He was 10-9 with an ERA of 4.01. You know he actually put up good strikeout to walk numbers. He whiffed 131 while only walking 42 batters. His walk rate was only 2.6, and his strikeout per nine rate was an impressive 8.0. However in being around the plate a lot, he does give up a lot of hits. I assume he will stay down in Chattanooga if he is not called up. The Dodgers are reluctant to put many pitching prospects in Albuquerque because of the thin air and ballpark factor. He’s not a relief pitcher, but he could be an option in case of an emergency.
If I had my choice of the three, I would have to choose Grabow, and only against lefties. My next choice would be Antonini, and I don’t even want to look at Ledezma unless I have too. While the Dodgers are flush with right handed relief pitching, there are few options for lefties. The Dodgers better hope that Scott Elbert stays healthy all year. We want to make sure and give Mattingly as many choices as we can, since he is still learning about Bullpen Management. He will need to be able to predict meltdowns and project better match-ups. I don’t like any of these three choices, but it might come down to one of them. We can’t have an all righty Bullpen, because that’s how you get killed in the late innings. With the logjam in the Dodger bullpen, it’s unlikely any of these three lefties would make the roster, but I could see one of them sneaking onto the 25 man roster as an emergency pitcher.
Do the Dodgers need a second lefty? Should they have tendered Kuo? Who would you choose? Ledezma, Grabow? Or perhaps Michael Antonini? Let us know what you think in the comments.