What Are the Possibilities for Jimmy Nelson?

(Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports)

When it eventually comes time for the management crew and coaching staff of the Dodgers to select the team’s roster for Opening Day, they may be dealing with a few difficult decisions.

In Tuesday’s column, besides discussing the current mindset of lefty starter Clayton Kershaw, we stated that up to nine different pitchers might be considered for the Los Angeles starting rotation, which will presumably create an overflow of arms that could be relegated to the bullpen.

The right arm of 30-year-old Jimmy Nelson might be one of them.

Recently, front-office boss Andrew Friedman went on record saying that Nelson may conceivably be a Brandon Morrow-type of reliever, drawing a few chuckles from the fan base in the process.

Nevertheless, it isn’t as funny as it sounds, as both players have had several similarities over the course of their respective pedigrees.

Morrow missed 18 months with a shredded shoulder before the Dodgers took a chance on him prior to the beginning of the 2017 season, nursing him back to life as a reliever. Before his injury, Morrow registered five consecutive years with 10 or more starts from 2009-2013 with both the Mariners and Blue Jays. He was a double-digit winner in three consecutive seasons as a starter for Toronto from 2010-12. Of his 334 career appearances, 113 were starts.

Similarly, Nelson missed the entire 2018 season after having surgery for a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder. He dealt with significant elbow issues last year, pitching in just 22 innings over 10 games, three of which were starts. The three starts came in June and the seven appearances in relief came in September. Lifetime, Nelson has made 119 appearances with 107 starts—almost the same number of starts as Morrow before he was converted to a reliever.

Morrow has the ability to throw from a vast selection of pitches, always being known to tinker with different styles and release points. His fastball sits at 94-96 MPH, while occasionally topping out at 98 MPH on the gun.

Nelson also has a decent mix in his own repertoire—a four-seam, a sinker, a slider and a curve. Occasionally, he mixes in a variation of a change. Before his shoulder surgery in 2018, his heater mostly sat in the 94-95 MPH range. However, since his return, he has lost a few ticks, as he has lived right around 92-93 MPH. Those velocities could theoretically increase if he’s limited to much shorter outings in the bullpen.

The similarities between the two are certainly there.

Regardless, all the comparisons and projections in the world won’t help Nelson if he’s unable to stay healthy. That might be the primary reason the Dodgers boosted his contract with incentives.

As far as Nelson’s contract goes, he will earn a base salary of $1.25 million this year with a chance to increase that payout to $3 million, mainly based on the number of days on the team’s active roster—not starts. He also has a mutual option for next year. If he finds a way to remain a Dodger through the 2021 season, there’s a possibility he can bring home more than $13 million across those two years.

Indeed, the opportunity is there for him to resurrect his career.

Nelson has no minor league options remaining on his contract, so as long as he’s healthy and still part of the team, he’ll be among those included on the Opening Day roster.


28 thoughts on “What Are the Possibilities for Jimmy Nelson?

  1. What are the possibilities?

    Well, in looking at his stat sheet at BR what leaps out are those few times he lead the league in something. They are in bold print so they are quite easy to see. Those categories? Losses, BB and HBP.

    I don’t expect much. But if he’s been working hard and can find the corners instead of missing them, he’s got a shot at being helpful. I look at this as one of those Friedman darts thrown from the back of the room.

  2. I think as long as the front office thinks Nelson has any hope of contributing this year, Andrew and Nelson will agree that he’ll spend time on the IL to start the year (assuming that his groin injury prevents him from beginning his training within the next few days). So I’m predicting Nelson starts the season in Az and on the IL.

      1. Don’t remember where I read it but they said May had an issue with his side (he said yesterday that he’d be up and going in the next few days) and Nelson had a groin problem which was more serious than May’s. Only read it in one place so it could have been totally wrong. Anyone else have anything on this? Please comment quickly before Dennis and I get into a violent argument. 🙂

      2. Maybe Jimmy is just a little outta shape right now. His 6-feet-6/250+ pound frame might just need some extra conditioning after missing nearly all of last season. 🙂

      3. Yep. It was reported he was suffering from a groin issue and lower back pain. He is not scheduled to throw in the next few days. Not sure what the problem is with May, but he is not throwing either. Saw video’s of Wood, Kersh and Gonsolin. All seemed to be throwing smoothly. Wood was throwing to hitters and his stuff looked pretty nasty. Had Belli bailing out a little. I am moving on from all the cheating stuff. Getting to be very tire some. Astros fired back today. Problem is for them, no one cares what they have to say anymore.

    1. That is way premature Rich. They won’t know what they have until he starts throwing. He is low risk high reward and you know how much AF loves that kind of pitcher. Hell, Kazmir is holding a showcase. Word is that he is back up in the 90’s after being in the mid 80’s for a while. AF might even take a flyer on him. I remember a lot of guys coming out of spring and making the roster and surprising everyone. And some had a lot less stuff than Nelson.

      1. Just sticking to his MO< he would…but at Kazmir's age, probably not…just throwin stuff at the wall and seeing if it sticks…

  3. Oh yeah Rich, you do not need to break the radar gun to be successful in the majors. Guys like Koufax, Chapman, Ryan who could light up the gun, are anomaly’s, not the norm. Look what throwing that hard did to Sandy. 12 years in the league and he was done at 30. Ryan was a freak. He was still throwing mid 90’s when he was 40. You have a 92-94 MPH fastball that moves, you can be very successful. You have a fastball that is 90-92…you can still win a lot. Kersh’s fastball was around 90-92 all year. He has not been in the mid 90’s for a while. It is all about location and control my friend.

  4. Well it sure helps when you miss at 97 rather than 90. I just think when healthy Morrow is just in a different league than Nelson. But neither guy seems like they can stay healthy. Nelson would be a fun surprise but I’m just not optimistic. I’m more excited about Wood and Treinen

    1. I get it. But we all know AF loves these kinds of players. I am less than excited about Terrence Gore. Seems to me that a guy who in parts of 6 years in the bigs has only appeared in 100 games is pretty much worthless.

  5. Greg Maddux never broke 92 in his entire career. So you can win with less than lightning stuff. I always admired guys like Maddux and Glavine, who won with wits more than blazing fastballs.

    1. Maddux is the illustration of what I was talking about the other day – never throw the same pitch in any at bat and never throw anything over the middle of the plate. Not many today do what he did. In fact I can’t name one.

      1. Neither can I. Except maybe the last couple of seasons, and with only 2 pitches, Rich Hill. He is the epitome of a junk baller. Nothing over 90, never in the same spot. If the guy could stay healthy, he would win a lot of games. Unfortunately for him, that is not the case.

  6. Interesting article on Dodgers web site. Asking if this years lineup is the best in Dodger history. I usually avoid comparing different decades. Too much difference in the way the game was then and now. Even though the 2019 Dodgers won 106 games to break the team record, at the 154 game mark, they were 6 games short of what the 53 team did. 53 team finished 105-49. DR’s team was 99-55 at the same point. Last years team shredded the team homer mark. The 53 team hit 208. Had 3 players with 30 or more, Snider, Hodges and Campy, and 3 players with 100 plus ribbies. 5 starters finished with BA over .300. Snider, Furillo, Campy, Hodges, and Robinson. All of the starting pitchers won in double figures except Podres who won 9. Erskine led with 20 wins, and Newcombe was not even there since he was in the Army. Biggest disparity between the two is bench production. No bench player played more than 96 games, and only one player did that. Last years bench was way more active. I would think Snider and Campy would have feasted on pitchers with that rabbit ball that was in use last year. This years batch? Well we will have to see how it all works out. On paper, it is a scary offense. If Betts can be the igniter they need him to be, then Muncy, Turner and Belli will have a lot more opportunities to drive in runs. He makes them more potent and balanced. But until the season plays out, predicting who is the best lineup ever is a fantasy.

    1. Nope. Not a winter guy. Been around a lot of them. In Wisconsin most guys loved winter because it meant ice fishing, snow mobiling (from bar to bar) and no bugs. Most of those people are Nords. Being from Southern California I played baseball and surfed in the winter. Do not like cold weather. Especially now that the joints aren’t as free as they usta was.

      Best lineup. Didn’t see the ‘53 team, but of all those I have seen this year’s could very well be the best. Much depends on Lux, Seager and Smith. If those 3 are on top of their game, this could easily be the most productive lineup we’ve ever seen. We led the league in pitching and scoring last year. We won 106. And this year’s team has the potential to be better. Maybe not more wins as the West will be more competitive, but better going into the playoffs. Please don’t screw this up again Doc.

      1. Doc has the magic touch for making poor decisions in games. Maybe the forced 3 hitter rule for relief pitchers will make Roberts appear to be a better manager. Okay, I’m dreaming and putting a positive spin on Roberts being totally lost. What the Dodgers really need is not pitching, they need a very effective bench manager that can lead Roberts in his decision making during a game. The best idea Roberts could have is the one the bench manager gave him. I watched a hilarious Vegas show last night, I’m still laughing.

      2. Different game in the 50’s. But you have to admit that 53 team was a monster. Only 49 losses? Just think how good they would have been with Newk. After winning 17,19, 20, from 49-51, he missed 2 full years while in the service. Was 9-8 in 54, and then won 20 in 55 and 27 in 56 along with the Cy Young and the MVP. Him and Erskine together would have been a knock out 1-2 punch. I am a SoCal native too. Lived in Redondo Beach for my high school years. But also spent some time in my youth in very cold states. Minnesota, Iowa, and Nevada…We lived in Elko, which gets pretty nasty in the winter. Then spent parts of 2 winters in Korea, and 4 in Germany. Been here 9 plus years. Winter’s here not nearly as bad as Germany. But they do have their moments. Last night happened to be one of them.

      3. Your political bent has been made clear guys. It’s not the comedy that concerns me, it’s the tragedy. I feel at this point it’s the flip side of the same coin. We are ALL being played. Baseball used to be a place I could escape the real world. Not anymore.

  7. In my opinion, a totally unnecessary signing and waste of money and roster spot. We have plenty of pitchers both starters and relievers
    I do likedqxxq

  8. Tragedy, totally concur. You should be concerned. I am actually more than concerned and possilby embarrassed by the partisanship BS that has been going on, Scoop. Even so, that was some funny shat being dished out in Vegas, numerous “deer in headlights” responses last night. Did anyone check Biden and Bloomturd for a pulse? That was precious.

    I heard that the Astros are being booed consistently at ST. I heard some sound clips from yesterday that greeted the Astros as they came onto the field, I didn’t hear anything about how things went as the game progressed. BTW, Altuve is such a liar when he addresses the issue of him wearing a buzzer and demonstrably pleading with his teammates not to rip off his jersey after hitting that huge HR against Stankees. The fans need to be loud and proud, make the Astros players miserable, make the Commish antsy, make the Owners react. This isn’t going away quickly or easily, should be fun to see the ongoing attempts to quiet the players and fans.

    1. I didn’t watch the Vegas show. But I will participate later in the year.

      I am interested in what happens next in MLB. I still believe the title has to be vacated. As for disciplining players, I don’t see that happening. Public humiliation might be enough, but somehow I doubt it. I believe more will come out, at least about Boston, and we may eventually find out those two franchises were just better at cheating than the others. I think trying to gain advantage may slow down but won’t stop. It works. The way the Dodgers are speaking out suggests they weren’t involved, but I haven’t heard much from other playoff teams. Maybe they are speaking up locally and I just don’t hear it. This will be talked about for years.

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