Tossing around a few ideas for Sunday’s column, my initial plan was to take a crack at optimizing the Dodgers‘ current bullpen crew, at least from a standpoint of which pitchers are the most capable. However, the way the club’s 25-man roster personnel is being handled these days, it sometimes boils down to whomever has the freshest of arms, especially with regard to who’s on the current 40-man roster.
Instead, I decided to take a look at a candidate who may be able to contribute at some point this season. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of guys like Daniel Hudson, Pat Venditte, Brock Stewart or Scott Alexander, but considering how they’ve gone the extra mile this season in terms of flexibility, all four certainly deserve a ton of credit for their effort. Nevertheless, we all know that effort alone doesn’t win baseball games at the end of the day.
It may be a tall task, but if the Dodgers are able to clear a spot on the 40-man anytime soon, the club will have many worthy candidates from which to select. But considering the big league squad’s immediate needs and the players who appear to be the readiest, reliever Joe Broussard could be the obvious choice to help the big league bullpen.
Beginning his 2017 campaign at Double-A Tulsa, the 6-foot-1, 220 lb. righty made four appearances, throwing 5-1/3 frames of absolutely perfect baseball. After earning a well-deserved promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City in mid-April, Broussard finishing the year tossing 63-1/3 innings over 48 appearances, registering five saves with 73 total strikeouts. His efforts in 2017 were good enough to earn him an invite to the big league camp for 2018 spring training. So far this season, he has thrown exclusively at OKC, making 26 appearances and throwing 31-2/3 frames with 33 punchouts against only six walks, tallying four saves in the process.
Yet, while it’s likely the native of New Orleans could certainly benefit from a few more months of pitching in the mostly hitter-friendly confines of the Pacific Coast League, a spot on the 40-man roster would allow Broussard to be recalled when a fresh wave of arms is needed, and if the audition goes well enough, perhaps be utilized during the stretch run of the big league season.
Broussard attended college at LSU and was instrumental as the team’s captain in 2014, leading the school to its 11th SEC Championship. In the process, he appeared in 32 games as the Tigers’ closer, registering a 3-2 record and a 1.05 ERA in 34-1/3 innings with 17 walks and 37 strikeouts.
Selected by the Dodgers in the 15th round of the 2014 draft, he suffered a UCL tear in his pitching elbow in the summer of 2012 while playing in the Cape Cod League, eventually receiving a medical redshirt for the 2013 season as he rehabilitated after Tommy John surgery. The ligament tear would have no ill effects on his effectiveness to date.
Broussard’s bread and butter is certainly his heater, which normally sits in the low-to-mid 90s, but features a ton of nasty movement. Coupled with his very deceptive, over-the-top delivery, he sometimes appears borderline untouchable when his mechanics are all in tune.
While it’s hard seeing somebody like Hudson or Stewart as a bullpen fix for the tail end of the 2018 season, someone like Broussard, who conceivably has a much higher ceiling, could prove to pay dividends if placed on the 40-man, at least until the front office decides if it wants to make any moves at the summer trade deadlines.
In addition to Broussard, there’s a plethora of other notable arms which may be considered for a vacant 40-man roster spot. A few of the more popular names include Josh Sborz, Manny Banuelos, Brian Schlitter, or even Shea Spitzbarth.