For the first time in a while, the Los Angeles Dodgers are firing on all cylinders.
It’s not like they’ve played really bad baseball at any point this season, but there has always been one aspect of their game that has kept them from making a significant jump in the NL West standings.
Sure, there have been a few games here and there when the offense has been dreary; but overall, fans are seeing an entirely different team compared to the midseason version. Over their last 18 games, Los Angeles has gone 15-3 and climbed to within 1-1/2 games from the division lead. The club has won eight straight.
The Dodgers still have a few aces in the hole as far as upgrades go. Mookie Betts is feeling better, and although neither Clayton Kershaw nor Danny Duffy is close to returning, the team hopes that both will be back for the stretch run of the year, even if they’re used as relievers.
Before Friday’s game against the Mets, the team announced the signing of reliever Shane Greene and immediately moved the 32-year-old righty to the active roster.
Greene hit free agency last winter, but he never signed with anyone until the Braves took a chance on him in May. After about a month in the minors, Atlanta recalled Greene without much success. In 19 appearances, he tallied an 8.47 ERA, a 6.76 FIP and a 1.824 WHIP over an even 17 innings, all career worst numbers.
His best year came in 2019, as it was the only season he was selected to an All-Star squad. Splitting the year with the Tigers and Braves, he made 65 appearances and registered a 2.60 ERA, notching 64 strikeouts and collecting and 23 saves over 62-2/3 innings.
The Braves released him Greene last weekend, and it only took the Dodgers a few days to pick him up.
Should Greene see game action anytime soon, he will become the 36th pitcher the club used this season, far and away a franchise record.
Since returning to the majors, Greene saw somewhat of a drop in velocity on his four seam. Over the month of July, he averaged just 91.95 MPH after sitting just a tick shy of 94.0 MPH for most of his career, according to Brooks Baseball.
It should be interesting to see if Greene sticks in Los Angeles, as the team’s number of high-leverage arms continues to grow. Despite pitchers like Victor Gonzalez and Scott Alexander not meeting their usual expectations, a whole new wave of pitchers is emerging as trusted late-inning options, including Phil Bickford and Alex Vesia.
If all goes according to plan, Max Scherzer will eat his typical seven-ish innings on Saturday. If the Dodgers find themselves in a groove offensively, there might be enough cushion to insert Greene into a late-inning role. In a perfect world, it might be sensible to use the veteran in low-leverage situations until he rebuilds his confidence.