Chone Figgins and Justin Turner, two non-roster players invited to Spring Training, made the team and the Sydney trip, but one long-time Dodger was cut from the roster in a somewhat sad turn of events. Javy Guerra, who once saved 21 games for the Dodgers in 2011, was on the short end of the roster when decisions came down before the team headed down under for the Opening Series. With no options left, Javy Guerra would be designated for assignment on March 16th.
The 28-year old right-hander was drafted by the Dodgers in the 4th round of the 2004 draft and debuted in Blue on May 15, 2011. After Jonathan Broxton imploded, Javy Guerra was called up from AA-Chattanooga, and he quickly gained attention by going on an impressive save spree in the early 2011 season. Guerra pitched in 47 games in 2011 and finished with a 2.31 ERA and 21 saves over 46 2/3 innings. Guerra was dominate during this span, and the rookie garnered many new fans and seemed to be a permanent part of the Dodger bullpen thereafter.
It was not to be. Guerra started 2012 off essentially as the Dodgers closer and had a great start to the season as he collected saves in his first five chances and seven of his first eight opportunities. The turning point, it seems, was when Javy was shockingly hit in the face with a Brian McCann line drive in April. Even though Guerra had no major injury from the infamous incident, Guerra subsequently suffered a series of injuries which would ultimately impact his progression with the Dodgers.
After Guerra’s hot start in 2012, he then began to pitch poorly and blew two of his next three save opportunities and didn’t fare well in some non-save situations either. Kenley Jansen would take over the closing duties, and Guerra was eventually demoted to AAA-Albuquerque in August, 2012. He briefly rejoined the team when rosters expanded in September, but his season ended with an oblique strain which disabled him. Guerra appeared in just two games less for the Dodgers in 2012 than 2011 (45), and he had a 2.60 ERA but only 8 saves.
Guerra underwent right shoulder surgery in the offseason, and this was his third surgery of 2012. Guerra also had a groin strain during
Spring Training 2013, and this led to him pitching in Albuquerque to begin the season. Guerra only pitched in 9 games for the Dodgers in 2013 in May. He had a 6.75 ERA allowing 8 runs on 9 hits with 12 strikeouts and 6 walks over 10 2/3 innings. He pitched the majority of the year in AAA where he had a 3.66 ERA over 27 games.
Javy pitched in 7 games for the Dodgers this Spring and had a 1-0 record with a 2.25 ERA. He struck out 5 and walked 4 in 8 innings. It seemed that even before Javy was designated for assignment, his time with the Dodgers was coming to an end. With increased relief pitching depth, Javy was on the bubble now. He was once the Dodgers primary closer, but now it looks as though he will not be pitching in Blue again.
— JavyGuerra54 (@JavyGuerra54) March 17, 2014
Since Javy is out of options, he would have to clear waivers in order for him to return to Albuquerque. That seems unlikely, since Guerra still has potential to provide a decent arm out of the bullpen for many teams. The Dodgers could also trade Guerra.
Don Mattingly had this to say about cutting Javy Guerra from the 40-man roster:
“It just came down to the numbers in spots. He’s kind of been back and forth the last couple of years. Obviously Javy’s a guy that I like. His stuff, I always feel like it plays. I think he’s a big league pitcher,” Mattingly said. “Javy being out of options and getting designated, I feel it speaks to our depth, with Chris Withrow, Dominguez and some guys we ended up keeping instead. We just felt like we had other options.”
Guerra already knew what was to happen last Saturday, the day before the roster decisions were made:
“I already know the outcome. It is what it is,” Guerra said. “I feel healthy. I came out of camp good, and we’ll just keep moving forward.”
With question marks in the bullpen remaining like Chris Perez and Brandon League, Javy’s departure sort of makes me feel as though Guerra wasn’t given the final opportunity to work his way back to the team. Even though I know that roster cuts are part of the game, it still is a bit morose to see someone who was once a favorite end up on another team. During Guerra’s 2011 showing, I really thought he would be a Dodger for a long time. I’m not sure how much the line drive to the face affected his career trajectory, but it made it clear how fleeting a Major League baseball career can be, especially a relief pitcher.
We wish Javy luck in his career even if he moves forward with a new team. I just hope we don’t regret this move when Brandon League and Chris Perez are serving up runs later in the season.