With the Winter Conferences behind us and the Dodgers having been comparatively inactive to date, issues are set to pickup, proper?
Properly, when you imagine the chatter concerning the luxurious tax being a barrier, then possibly not. They’ve signed only one free agent (Shelby Miller) and introduced again their future Corridor of Fame lefty (Clayton Kershaw) … and that’s it. They didn’t re-sign Trea Turner (as anticipated), didn’t signal Xander Boagerts, Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander. Japanese senstation Kodaui Senga signed with the Mets over the weekend and hell, even Sean Manaea signed with the Giants (not that anybody wished him to signal with the Dodgers anyway, however nonetheless). With them showing to be out on Carlos Rodon and no clear commerce targets, it seems they’re going to attempt to bolster the rotaiton by looking for the following Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney.
As such, I’ve tried to establish present free brokers who would possibly make sense and why they could make sense. The floor numbers are going to look fairly unhealthy, however a deeper dive would possibly present why the Dodgers might be fascinated about these hurlers.
The factors was specializing in one or two issues the pitchers beneath do effectively or maybe underutilize, with the hope the Dodgers can get them to proceed to do stated factor effectively or make the most of a pitch extra. For instance, Anderson restricted exit velocity effectively previous to 2022 (86.7 MPH), however he was even higher with the Dodgers (85 MPH). He additionally noticed his changeup utilization enhance by 7 share factors and noticed his wOBA in opposition to drop by greater than 100 factors.
In Heaney’s case, the Dodgers had him fully ditch his curveball — a pitch he had thrown 18.8% of the time coming into 2022. As an alternative, the Dodgers had him throw his slider at a career-high 32.4% clip after throwing it 36 instances from 2016 by way of ’21. Not 36%, 36 instances complete. And whereas he noticed his exit velo in opposition to enhance by nearly a full mile per hour in ’22, he additionally established a career-best (by practically 7 share factors) 35.5 Okay%. Each pitchers landed multi-year offers on the open market.
RHP Dylan Bundy
Bundy, 30, since having a quasi-breakout season in 2020 with the Angels, has been fairly not nice. He completed out a 2-year cope with Anaheim earlier than signing a 1+1 cope with the Twins final winter. They declined his possibility, making him a free agent. in 230 2/3 innings, he posted an unsightly 5.35 ERA, 5.00 FIP and an 11.7 Okay-BB%.
He isn’t a flamethrower by any means, as he averaged simply 89.7 MPH on his fastball final season together with his high common velocity of 94.4 MPH was all the way in which again in 2016. However his fastball isn’t what ought to curiosity LA. Up to now, Bundy has proven a superb slider and changeup. Whereas the slider doesn’t induce as many whiffs because it did from 2017-20, he nonetheless runs a 36 Whiff% on it together with his common spin price starting from 2,404 RPM to 2,655 RPM. The two,655 mark was in ’21, and was his career-best. We all know the Dodgers covet spin with breaking pitches, and with Mark Prior and Co., they could be capable of get Bundy’s slider to take the following step.
Bundy’s curveball additionally has proven potential prior to now. Within the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he didn’t enable a success in opposition to his curveball in. Positive, he solely had 13 plate appearances that ended with a curveball, however he threw 119 curves with out permitting a success on it. And other than the 2018 season (.419 BAA, .455 wOBA), his curveball has been a cash pitch when used. From 2019 by way of ’22, he had a .215 wOBA in opposition to — in the identical neighborhood as Kershaw (.209), Max Fried and Charlie Morton (each .211) — and a median exit velo of 85.8 MPH — much like Mike Cleavinger and Zach Davies (85.5 MPH) and the identical as Adam Wainwright and Touki Toussaint. Extra publicity may result in worse outcomes, however there may be at the very least an opportunity his curveball might be underutilized at this level.
So far as his Statcast numbers go, he was within the 93rd percenticle in BB% and ninetieth in chase price. So, he has that going for him.
RHP Drew Hutchison
Hutchison, 32, is likely to be essentially the most unknown of the pitchers listed right here, however he brings a stable slider and sinker to the desk.
His slider averaged 86 MPH final season and induced a 27.6 Whiff%. It had a 2,582 RPM spin price and a .300 wOBA in opposition to. It acquired hit a little bit exhausting (90 MPH common exit velo), however he has missed bats with it prior to now. Some tweaks by Prior and Co., may make it an much more viable pitch. Actually, it would truly play up higher out of the bullpen, which might be a consdieration right here. He threw it at a career-high clip of 37.1% final season, and there’s no purpose to assume that couldn’t enhance, if needed. He has averaged 2,468 RPM on it since 2015 (first yr Statcast tracked spin price), which is analogous to Brad Brach and Kendall Graveman (2,469 RPM) and the identical as Matt Wisler. Hutchison compares considerably favorably to Graveman, who’s a sinker/slider man.
Hutchison’s sinker is attention-grabbing. It’s a low-90s pitch that he hasn’t thrown loads prior to now. He did throw it 11.4% of the time in 2022, which was essentially the most he had ever thrown it. He had a .206 BAA, .249 wOBA and an 88.6 MPH exit velo. Since 2015, the .316 wOBA in opposition to is similar as Seth Lugo‘s, a pitcher whom the Dodgers are reportedly have curiosity. The 87.5 MPH exit velo is similar as Gerrit Cole, Jeurys Familia, Alex Lange, Drew Pomeranz, Kyle Wright in addition to outdated buddies Anderson, J.P. Howell and Sergio Romo.
It’s not an excessively spectacular bundle, however there’s some untapped potential right here.
RHP Chad Kuhl
Kuhl, 30, is a former Pirate who spent 2022 with the Rockies. It … didn’t go effectively: 5.72 ERA, 5.26 FIP, 8.4 Okay-BB%. Nevertheless, there may be hope for a pitcher like him. His knuckle curveball is within the 91st percentile of spin (2,866 RPM in 2022) and his slider produced a 34.2 Whiff%. He additionally has a usable sinker.
His knuckle curveball will not be the largest swig-and-miss pitch — at the very least, it hasn’t been the final two years — nevertheless it has finished nothing however produce outcomes since he began throwing it in 2017. He averages 2,829 RPM and allowed only a .235 wOBA in opposition to (the identical as Shane Bieber and Hyun-Jin Ryu). It was even higher when he began throwing it in Pittsburgh. From 2017 by way of 2020, he had a 2,885 spin price and a .145 wOBA — Third-best in baseball behind Corey Kluber (who would possibly look good in Dodger Blue) and Keone Kela (who was within the Dodgers’ group final yr). It’s a monster.
Kuhl’s slider has the potenital to be a extra impactful pitch than his curve becuase he’s prepared to throw it extra. It has a 2,483 RPM spin price — 2 RPM forward of Evan Phillips‘ slider — a median exit velo of 85.9 MPH — the identical as guys like Daniel Bard, Ryan Helsley and Joe Jimenez. That has led to a .272 wOBA in opposition to whereas throwing it 26.5% of the time. And adjustment to get extra sweeper-like motion and elevated utilization might be a boon for him.
RHP Michael Lorenzen
Lorenzen, 31 on Jan. 4, is a former reliever/2-way player-turned-starter. He signed a 1-year cope with the Angels final offseason and returned some combined outcomes: 4.24 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 10.0 Okay-BB% in simply 97 2/3 innings. Nevertheless, there are some indicators that the very best might be but to come back for him as a starter.
In 2017 and 2019-20, he was anyplace within the High 1% to eight% of exit velo in opposition to. He was merely common (88.1 MPH) in 2022 — his first season as a beginning pitcher since his 2015 rookie marketing campaign. We all know limiting exit velo is a talent and the Dodgers are good at stated talent, so there is likely to be some hope for him as a starter.
His fastball spin price was within the 82nd percentile (2,439 RPM) this previous season, regardless of dropping a pair MPH as a result of transfer from the bullpen. He nonetheless averaged 94.6 MPH on it whereas throwing it 22.2% of the time. He noticed a rise in sinker utilization with the transfer to the rotation, and which will have been ill-advised. Regardless of a decrease wOBA (.290) than his 4-seamer (.346), his common exit velo was 90.6 MPH vs. 88.6 MPH and his common launch angle of 6.1 levels was decidedly mediocre. Extra 4-seamers, fewer sinkers is likely to be good.
His offspeed stuff is encouraging. He noticed his slider Whiff% dip to 35.2%, however from ’19-21, he was anyplace from 40.2-52.1%. And his common exit velo in opposition to it was a minuscule 81.1 MPH. It’s exhausting to guage since that every one got here from the bullpen, however he would possibly truly need to throw it much less to take care of its effectiveness. If he does, he’ll should complement it with elevated curveball utilization. His curveball has a median spin price of two,435 RPM — sandwhiched between Lucas Giolito and Wade Miley — and he has allowed a .265 wOBA in opposition to it. He has thrown it at only a 7% clip for his profession, so possibly that’s one thing to discover.
The most important profit may come from his changeup. He has thrown it a good quantity in his profession (11.7%), and it has returned wonderful outcomes: 84 MPH exit velo, .279 wOBA and has solely had a sub-32% Whiff% on it as soon as in his profession. He threw it to lefties twice as a lot as righties final season, and it was his greatest total pitch: .154 BAA, .222 wOBA, 83.4 MPH exit velo, 38 Whiff%. He threw it 22.3% of the time subsequent season. Bumping that up and bumping the slider utilization down may unlock some issues.
Contract prediction (ESPN): 1 yr, $12 million.
LHP Mike Minor
Minor, 35 the day after Christmas, is a man I preferred after the 2017 season, however as a reliever. He went to Texas and had one good season (2019) sandwhiched in between two unhealthy ones. He was traded to the A’s in 2020, signed again up with the Royals in 2021 and posted a 6.06 ERA and 6.16 FIP in 98 innings for the Reds final season. So, what provides?
Properly, the veteran southpaw 94th percentile fastball spin — even with the poor ’22 season — a previously actually good changeup and an above-average 87.6 MPH common exit velo (since 2015; the Statcast period).
He has, predictably, misplaced velocity on his fastball with the transfer again to the rotation and with age. He averaged 90.4 MPH on it final season. For reference, Anderson averaged 90.6 MPH in 2021 earlier than the Dodgers signed him. Whereas the 4-seamer wasn’t Anderson’s greatest pitch, Minor’s fastball profiles higher than Tyler’s did.
He has all the time had changeup. He used to routinely be within the 30s in Whiff% and averaged an 84.6 MPH exit velo in opposition to it and a .279 wOBA in opposition to. Once more for context, Minor’s changeup is healthier than Anderson’s was, and Anderson noticed his utilization enhance to 31.6% final season (up from 24.6 in ’21). Maybe there’s some Tyler Anderson in Mike Minor.
Minor’s curveball is a little bit of an enigma. Within the final two years, it has a 2,498 RPM spin price, which is nice! It has a .285 wOBA, which isn’t unhealthy! However it additionally has a median exit velo of 91.2 MPH. That’s unhealthy! Over the previous six seasons, the curve has both been actually good (2017-18, ’20) or mediocre (2019, ’21-22). That’s some sort of bizarre consistency, I assume.
RHP Aaron Sanchez
Sanchez, 30, was a high prospect with the Blue Jays in the midst of final decade and he realized that potential in 2016. He completed seventh in Cy Younger voting and posted a 3.00 ERA, 3.55 FIP in 192 innings. Then, issues fell aside. Accidents hit him exhausting and he has bounced round ever since. He spent 2022 with the Nationals and Brewers and mixed to submit a 6.60 ERA, 4.48 FIP in 60 innings.
When wholesome, Sanchez is a sinker-curveball man with sufficient changeup to maintain hitters sincere. Gone are the times of the 95+ MPH sinker. He averaged 92.1 MPH on his sinker in ’22, and it wasn’t terribly efficient. He had a .364 BAA, .415 wOBA in opposition to and a median exit velo of 91.5 MPH. Throwing it 41.3% of the time led to some poor total outcomes. His 4-seamer fared higher — .303 BAA, .336 wOBA, 90.2 MPH exit velo — however nonetheless wasn’t nice. One factor he has all the time been nice at is getting horizontal motion on his pitches. His 4-seamer acquired 4.1 inches extra h-movement vs. the typical 4-seamer. Nice pitcher improvement orgs just like the Astros, Brewers and Twins have had him prior to now, however they didn’t get him to throw extra 4-seamers and fewer sinkers. Perhaps, if the Dodgers acquired him, they might persuade him to take action? The one factor with that’s the Dodgers just like the vertical motion on the fastball, and Sanchez’s fastball doesn’t actually do this (-2.5 inches vs. common in ’22). Lengthy story brief: He they usually’d should fully reinvent his main pitch, and that’s a tall job.
One the breaking ball facet, Sanchez as soon as had elite spin charges on his curveball. It was nonetheless actually good in ’22 (2,,632 RPM) and it averages 2,787 RPM for his profession. That comes with a stable 86.6 MPH exit velocity in opposition to and .262 wOBA. It’s simply his greatest pitch, and you may make sure groups know that. Backing off the fastball and rising curveball utilization might be the important thing to getting him again to the place he as soon as was — and even anyplace shut (well being allowing). On that observe, his changeup is likely to be underutilized, too. He has a profession .272 wOBA in opposition to and 87.3 MPH exit velo in opposition to. It’s used principally in opposition to lefties (64/36 cut up), however elevated utilization in opposition to righties might be explored. Listed below are how hitters have fared in opposition to his changeup in his profession:
- vs. RHH: .173/.258/.318, .255 wOBA, 89.4 MPH EV
- vs. LHH: .240/.270/.384, .280 wOBA, 86.5 MPH EV
Whereas righties are inclined to hit it more durable, the outcomes have been substantial higher than when lefties make contact. Simply one thing to bear in mind.
LHP Drew Smyly
If not for the following (and final) participant on this listing, Smyly could be the craftiest of the artful on this listing. The southpaw goes into his age-34 season with some attention-grabbing metrics. He compares favorably to Anderson final yr as a result of he does a very good job limiting exit velocity. He was within the eighty fifth percentile in ’22 (86.7 MPH) and, regardless of missing above-average curveball spin, makes use of it essentially the most often and enjoys success with it. He has a profession .286 wOBA in opposition to and an 85.8 MPH exit velo in opposition to.
His cutter has improved in recent times as effectively. Previous to 2020, his cutter was fairly terrible. Batters hit .330/.361/.643 with an unsightly .416 wOBA in opposition to. Since ’20, these numbers improved to .242/.305/463 with a .328 wOBA. Nonetheless not nice, however that’s as a result of righties are inclined to hit it effectively.
- vs. RHH: .308/.393/.564, .411 wOBA
- vs. LHH: .169/.205/.352, .234 wOBA
Easy resolution: Give up throwing it to right-handers. Drawback is, he has thrown it to righties at practically a 66% clip in his profession. He has stopped throwing it that a lot to rightites within the final three seasons, however he’s nonetheless at 56/44 righties to lefties, so which may want to come back down much more. If it does, and he will increase his curveball utilization in opposition to righties, that might be helpful. The wild card could be to reintroduce the slider — a pitch he hasn’t thrown since 2016. That’d be dangerous, although.
LHP Ryan Yarbrough
Final on the listing is a soft-tosser who does two issues rather well (they usually’re nearly one in the identical): He limits exhausting hits and exit velocity. He completed 2022 within the 94th percentile in HardHit% and 97th percentile in exit velocity in opposition to. He did all that whereas being within the 1st percentile in fastball velocity and eleventh in curveball spin price. So, how does he do it?
Yarbrough, 30, has been within the High 1-4% of the league in exit velocity in opposition to in each certainly one of his 5 MLB seasons. He tops out at a Jamie Moyer-esque 86.7 MPH together with his sinker, so he isn’t precisely blowing hitters away. Regardless of not being a high-spin curve, it does a incredible job limiting exit velo. Batters are hitting simply .150/.228/.295 with a .233 wOBA and an 80.8 MPH exit velo in opposition to. That’s bananas! If you happen to break it down by handedness, you may see how a lot he dominantes lefites.
- vs. RHH: .217/.308/.443, .327 wOBA
- vs. LHH: .120/.191/.227, .189 wOBA
Goodness. It nearly makes you surprise why the Rays non-tendered him, seeing as they’ve finished an important job getting outcomes out of him.
Right here’s his total pitch breakdown in 2022:
- Cutter: 30.3%
- Curveball: 27%
- Changeup: 23.9%
- Sinker: 18.7%
His cutter and changeup are used nearly solely in opposition to righties, whereas it’s nearer to an excellent cut up with the opposite two choices. I’ve all the time been an enormous proponent of same-handed changeup utilization. He has thrown simply 97 changeups to lefties within the majors. Whereas the outcomes haven’t been overwhelmingly constructive (.250/.300/.286, .264 wOBA), there’s potential for that to enhance. The Dodgers have, seemingly, put extra give attention to changepus just lately and getting Yarbrough to throw extra in opposition to lefties may throw sufficient of a wrinkle in to make him much more efficient in opposition to them.
That was loads. I targeted on simply free-agent pitchers, as I’m certain there are some commerce choices the Dodgers are exploring on this area. Factoring in all the things — age, anticipated contract, match, and so on. — right here’s how I’d rank the eight pitchers above for the Dodgers.
Kuhl appears to have essentially the most potential, with Lorenzen not far behind. I may see Bundy turning issues round rapidly, whereas Yarbrough is extra of “we all know what he’s.” Smyly and Minor are interchangeable, whereas Sanchez and Hutchison are attention-grabbing, however is likely to be extra attention-grabbing as relievers.
We all know the Dodgers are going so as to add pitching outdoors of Kershaw and Miller this offseason, and it wouldn’t be stunning if one (or two) of those guys are on their radar.