More Thoughts on Dodgers Pitching

The Los Angeles Dodgers are about one-third of the way through their Spring Training schedule, and those starting pitchers who were good to go from the beginning of camp are about to begin their third cycle of ramping up for the regular season.

So far, all of the starters are looking good. Clayton Kershaw allowed his first minor league home run since 2017 on Wednesday evening, but other than that, he looked pretty decent. Julio Urías was insanely sharp in his last outing when it took him only 27 pitches to set down all nine batters he faced in order. Trevor Bauer will continue to up his pitch count against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday evening.

On Monday, we discussed David Price and his road to the starting rotation. Being the amazing team player he is, he recognized with the addition of Bauer and his having sat out the last year, that he may work best out of the bullpen, even telling Manager Dave Roberts that he was okay with that. Another pitcher seemingly in that same spot is Jimmy Nelson.

Nelson joined the Dodgers last season, but did not end up pitching in the 2020 season due to lower back surgery. He is in camp on a minor league deal and non-roster invite. And he’s being jokingly called the Dodgers’ 8th starter, with good reason.

The tall right-hander is having a fantastic spring. His fastball is sitting between 94-96 mph, and his curve ball is looking very sharp. Nelson is currently being built up to be a starter, but says he’s happy to fill whatever roll is needed.

On Tuesday, Nelson started the game against the Cincinnati Reds. He used only 20 pitches to get through two scoreless innings. He felt good after his outing against the Chicago Cubs last week and continued to feel good after his start on Tuesday.

“Obviously the up-down is just another step, and I was happy with how it went,” Nelson said after his outing. “I was able to mix in some more offspeed in early counts and execute our gameplan. I’ve been feeling good. I was feeling really good coming into Spring Training with my offseason bullpens and all my work. Just continuing from that. Like I said, it’s just step by step. The body has been bouncing back well and physically I’m feeling really good.”

Despite being currently built up for a starting role, Nelson said he’s happy to pitch wherever.

“I can do anything,” he said. “I’ll do any role they want me to do. I don’t think it will be an issue physically. I just want to pitch and help us win. Whatever role that is, I’m open to anything.”

Whether Nelson breaks camp as a starter remains to be seen, but it more likely he becomes a long man out of the bullpen, and if he’s on his game, what a weapon to have.

Dennis Santana is another pitcher that is making people look twice in camp. Roberts has called Santana “one of the brighter guys in camp so far.” Santana has faced 13 batters so far this spring, allowing only one hit and one walk, while striking out five.

Santana went 1-2 in 2020 over 17 innings pitched, with a 5.29 ERA, striking out 18 and allowing no walks.

“Every time I’m healthy I can show what I can do,” Santana said on Thursday. “That’s what’s happening right now.”

Santana said that he gained 15-17 pounds during the offseason, mostly by eating rice, beans and birria tacos, and focusing on weight lifting. His main goal is to make the Opening Day roster.

With a lot of uncertainty surrounding Joe Kelly at the moment, Santana may get a spot in the Dodgers bullpen.

The Dodgers have the enviable position of too many good pitchers and not enough spots on the 26-man roster. But, as we all know, injuries and other issues will come as the season progresses, and these guys will have their fair chance to shine.

23 thoughts on “More Thoughts on Dodgers Pitching

  1. I really hope that Kelly doesn’t ultimately get a spot on the roster simply because he’s being paid quite a bit. I’m assuming that won’t be the case and that the bullpen spots will go to the guys who most deserve them.

      1. I agree Andy. The question is will he go from the IL back to the active roster at some point or to the DFA list. In past seasons it was fairly obvious that there would be a spot for a healthy Kelly but this year there are so many potentially excellent relievers that even a healthy Kelly might not have a spot.

        I guess that’s where his salary and younger guys with options remaining might come into play. I really hope the decision is made solely on the player’s ability to contribute.

    1. Nice thought jeff ,but the last few roster spots rarely go tothe guys that most deserve them. For one thing what you see in the spring is not often what you get in season. They .Ike the veterans until they play themselves out of a job. I’d rather go with the young guys and see what they got instead of them hanging around for 4/5 years, then deciding their career career minor leaguers.

      1. I really enjoy watching Kelly at his best and I know he’s considered a good teammate, but I think we may have reached that point you speak about Gordon where he has played himself out of a job.

      2. As one of you said before, a rare Freidman miss if that is the case

      3. Kelly really hasn’t been very healthy since he got here, so assuming there was no way to know that before signing him, I’m not sure I’m going to hold this one against Andrew if it doesn’t work out. And, of course, he does have this last season on his contract. Who knows, we may be talking about Joe Kelly, World Series hero in November. Would I bet money on that, no, but stranger things have happened.

  2. The pitching talent that Friedman has accumulated is incredible. Nelson looks very good. Santana has been great also, his added size probably helps. Knebel’s velocity has been good and his curve knee-buckling. V Gonzalez has been doing a great job. What a pitching staff.

  3. After watching Bauer vs Gonsolin in last nights game, I am wondering again why such an investment in Bauer, because now again we hold back youngsters like Gonsolin and May, not to mention others like Gray who will be ready in a year or so. Don’t get me wrong, I hope Bauer is lights out like last year, but I worry, that with Seager and Kershaw becoming free agents and the need to extend Bellinger also, soon after, what will the impact of paying Bauer so much?

    On another, note Joc now has 5 Homers in 17 spring at bats for Cubs! Good for him! I hope it carries into the season.

    1. Pitching is going to be this teams strong suit for sure. They signed Bauer for a couple of reason’s. One, because the Padres added so much depth to their rotation. Two, outside of talent, May and Gonsolin both lack the one thing Bauer brings, EXPERIENCE. Three, They want to repeat. With 3 Cy Young winners in the rotation along with a guy like Buehler, who could win one, and Urias, who’s ceiling is very high, their rotation is as good if not better than SD’s With May and Gonsolin in there, it is not.

      1. I don’t disagree with any of this post, but I will be one unhappy fan, if Seager doesn’t fit into the Budget next year because they are paying over $40M to Bauer.

      2. Seager has to want to come back first of all. His agent is Scott Boras. Seager right now is considered the # 2 free agent available this winter. There is also the very real chance there will be some sort of strike or work stoppage before 2022 even starts. Bauer’s contract is not going to stop them from resigning Seager since they have Jansen and Kershaws contracts coming off also. Bauer can also opt out of his deal after this season. There are a lot of moving parts here. No one at this point has any idea what is going to happen. So, I would wait until at least next March before you start pulling your hair out.

      3. I think it would be great if Theo Epstein and Raul Ibanez would be allowed to take part in negotiations on the new CBA. I think both have some bona fides with the players even though Theo was a GM. At least he has admitted to taking part in various changes to the game that he now feels ultimately hurt it. That kind of honesty would serve him well in negotiations. Ibanez is very well thought of throughout baseball by both sides. These are the kind of “middle ground” people that need to be involved or there won’t be a 2022 season. It would be like having Trump and Hillary negotiating a deal. There is so much animosity there that they could never get past it.

    2. Joc has been told he will be given every opportunity to play every day. That would not be the case in LA. He hit 2 homers in yesterday’s game. The first went to left field as he drove and outside pitch the other way, and the second was a shot deep to center field.

  4. RIP Norm Sherry. It was Sherry who in a spring training game made the suggestion to Sandy Koufax that instead of trying to throw the ball by every hitter, that he instead just throw to the mitt and play catch. It totally changed Koufax as a pitcher. He also has a special place for me. When I was living in Highland Park in a home for kids back in the early 60’s, Norm and Larry bought homes on our block about 3 houses down. They would constantly talk to us kids and when they were getting ready to head to Vero in 1961, they had us come down to Arroyo Seco park to shag balls for them, Not long before they were ready to quit for the day, Norm told me to stand at the plate while Larry pitched. He threw a couple of heaters…medium speed, And Norm said go ahead and try and hit one. Larry moved up a little and tossed me what would be a good Little League fastball. I got wood on it and hit it over the infield and it dropped in. Norm was really kidding his brother for letting a 12 year old get a hit. Norm and Larry also came to the opening of the multipurpose building that was built at the home where I was living. He brought along Tommy Davis and I got to talk hitting with him. Great experience for a kid who just loved the Dodgers and baseball in general. Years later when I was in the Army and stationed in El Paso at Ft. Bliss, I went to a El Paso Diablos game and Norm was then managing the Angels AA team there. I got to chat with him after the game for a few minutes and told him about our meeting all those years before and he remembered. It was a great few minutes with an old friend to me. One of his players that year was Kurt Russell the actor who was a second baseman. He got injured sometime later and his baseball career was over. He actually did pretty good outside of baseball and is still with Goldie Hawn, who he has never married and his latest movie, The Christmas Chronicles 2, they were co-stars with him playing Santa and her Mrs. Claus. He did play for a short while in the 70’s with his dad, Bing Russell’s Portland Mavericks. The only unaffiliated team in their league. All the players were free agent guys who had not been signed in a while. A documentary about them, called “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” can be seen on Amazon Prime. The Christmas Chronicle movies are on Netflix. His dad Bing was a character actor who had many appearances on TV. His most famous TV role was that of Deputy Clem Foster on Bonanza. Kurt once said that his dad died more times than any other actor he knew. And he was in some very good movies including, Rio Bravo..he was killed in the opening scene by Claude Akins who played the bad guy. He was a whiskey peddler in The Magnificent Seven. He also was in the John Wayne movie ” The Horse Soldiers. He died in that one when William Holden could not keep him alive after having to remove his leg because of gangrene.

    1. Bear, do you remember what street you lived on in HP? My wife was raised there and was wondering where you lived. She’s about 10 years younger than you so wouldn’t have crossed paths, but she was curious as to where the Sherrys lived.

      1. The home, Hathaway Home for Children was located on North Ave 66. Where the home was used to be the end of the street. Beyond that were empty fields and a road that wound up the hill. They filled it all in and built a big housing tract there. I was there from 58-to 62. Just before I turned 14 they moved me to a foster home in Redondo Beach. But I had been attending Luther Burbank Jr High. My home room teacher, Mr Lingua, was at one time a player in the Red Sox system.

      2. Thanks, I passed along the info. She lived up in the hills right near where York and Eagle Rock Blvd intersect.

    2. Great story about the Sherry Brothers and your experience with them. And Tommy Davis would have been an all-time Dodger great, if not for his injuries. I don’t think we have had a Batting Champion since Tommy, have we? Maybe Seager or Betts this year.

      1. No Dodger has won the title since Davis won his second in 1963. He only had the one injury as a Dodger, but it was major. It was said when he broke his ankle sliding into 3rd, it was completely turned around. He really lost speed and agility after that, and although he played for 10 more years after he left the Dodgers, he never reached those lofty heights again. Plus whatever power stroke he had never came back. He had 86 HR’s as a Dodger, and over the next 10 years he only hit 67. He did finish with a .294 career average. He was a .304 hitter as a Dodger.

  5. Some of us were discussing Yadier Alvarez a few days ago, wondering what ever happened to him. I believe that Dennis confirmed he was still Dodger property and today this appeared on Twitter. Wouldn’t it be something if, after all the garbage he pulled, Yadi actually wound up with a good career. Supposedly he has seen the light and now at least has his head on straight. According to Francys Romero (a major authority on Latin players), he’s recovered from his shoulder problems and throwing very well. Looks like he’s training in Miami until Dodger minor leaguers report.

    1. So he continues to be in the Dodger system and could actually make it? That is really interesting. Thanks for the 411. The reports were he had electric stuff and a messed-up head.

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