Early Grades for the Dodgers' Offseason Acquisitions
The Los Angeles Dodgers made headlines this offseason with a flurry of personnel moves. Three weeks into the 2015 season, these recent additions have provided varying contributions.
Although the sample size is still relatively small, we’ve decided to hand out an April report card for the newest Boys in Blue.
This evaluation follows the order in which Los Angeles acquired these players during the winter.
Joel Peralta, RHP
2015 Stats: 7 G, 0-0, 3 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 4 K, 3 BB, 5.2 IP
Prior to landing on the disabled list this week, veteran right-hander Joel Peralta had become the team’s interim closer with main closer Kenley Jansen recovering from foot surgery.
The 39-year-old allowed only two hits in just about six innings of work, including three saves. The unblemished ERA would typically earn Peralta a higher grade, but his durability is already being called into question.
He told reporters over the weekend that he is going through a “dead arm” period, according to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. That’s not exactly what the Dodgers want to hear less than one month into the regular season.
Juan Nicasio, RHP
2015 Stats: 7 G, 0-1,1 HLD, 1.93 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 12 K, 7 BB, 9.1 IP
The Dodgers’ token long reliever, Juan Nicasio, has held down the responsibility quite well.
Four of his seven appearances have lasted more than an inning, including two games in which manager Don Mattingly asked him to record six straight outs.
Nicasio has allowed just two earned runs, but Los Angeles does not seem inclined to call on the right-hander for spot starts even though he has previous experience beginning games as a member of the Colorado Rockies. The team has instead opted to bring up a minor league pitcher in two such instances this season.
Nicasio's lone loss occurred last week in San Francisco, when he began the 10th inning and allowed the game-winning run to score. The Dodgers probably would like to see him cut back on his walks in order to lower that 1.50 WHIP.
Chris Hatcher, RHP
2015 Stats: 9 G, 0-2, 3 HLD, 1 SV, 9.95 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 12 K, 2 BB, 6.1 IP
Flame-thrower Chris Hatcher began the season by throwing flames on his own dumpster fire. After earning the save on Opening Day, Hatcher retired just one of the next nine batters he faced during the course of two outings.
He explained the messy situation to Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register.
I just wasn’t confident in anything I was throwing except fastball down and away. Some things weren’t working the way I wanted them to so I just canned them and went to something I know I can do – fastball low and away. And since it wasn’t working, I was just being stubborn. Here it is, hit it. And I got it handed to me.
Hatcher cleaned up his act in Week 2 but has now allowed an earned run in two of his last three appearances. It’s been a struggle for him to keep his ERA below 10.
Howie Kendrick, 2B
2015 Stats: 18 G, .303/.370/.561, 6 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 9 R
First impressions say a lot. For the Dodgers and Howie Kendrick, it’s been love at first sight.
The veteran second baseman has been nothing short of sensational in his first three weeks with the club, compiling a steady slash line from the cleanup spot while playing flawless defense in the field.
Kendrick’s three home runs have been an added bonus after he only swatted seven long balls last season with the Los Angeles Angels.
He has endeared himself to fans with a walk-off single at home and a game-saving catch at San Francisco (the Dodgers ended up losing in the extra inning). He's been so good that Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that Los Angeles may decide to ink Kendrick to a long-term deal when his current contract expires after this season.
Yasmani Grandal, C
2015 Stats: 14 G, .217/.345/.326, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 8 R
The main haul in the Matt Kemp trade, catcher Yasmani Grandal, has stumbled out of the gates for his new team this season.
The career .243 hitter is down to .217 and even worse when batting left-handed (.200). He has just six at-bats from the right side. But with backup catcher A.J. Ellis dealing with a sore hand, the Dodgers have been forced to keep trotting Grandal out there.
Most catchers will say that their best peers are the ones who are able to keep offensive woes from affecting their focus on defense.
That distinction has been somewhat of a bright spot for Grandal. Among the 17 catchers who have hauled in at least 1,000 pitches this season, Grandal ranks fourth when it comes to pitch framing, per StatCorner. However, he's only snuffed out three of 12 stolen-base attempts.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
2015 Stats: 18 G, .186/.275/.314, 4 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R
Throughout Jimmy Rollins’ 15-year career, the opening month of the season has never been kind to him.
His .260 career average in April is the lowest for any month, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
This season is no different, as he enters Monday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants with a measly .186 average and an even uglier .275 on-base percentage while leading off.
His game-winning home run on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium seems like a distant memory, but Rollins isn’t too worried.
“Well, some people like to panic. That has never been my MO,” said the 36-year-old veteran, per Plunkett. "It's hard to compute if you just look at numbers. I’m getting myself in good counts, just not finishing it off. I know it’s coming. I’m hitting some off the end, some are getting in just a little bit. But the swing path is right. It’s just a click here, a click there.”
Rollins also leads the team with four errors at shortstop but still ranks among the top of the list when it comes to defensive runs saved at the position.
Brandon McCarthy, RHP
2015 Stats: 4 G, 3-0, 5.87 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 29 K, 4 BB, 24 H, 23 IP
The first year of Brandon McCarthy’s four-year, $48 million deal went up in smoke over the weekend when the tall right-hander was forced to leave his start in San Diego with elbow discomfort.
The Dodgers announced that the MRI revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament, effectively ending McCarthy’s 2015 season.
The injury occurred during his fourth start for the Dodgers. Although McCarthy had won each of his previous three decisions, the sinker-baller was far from lights-out, as evidenced by his 5.87 ERA.
McCarthy had allowed at least four runs in three of his four starts, including a whopping nine home runs.
If McCarthy opts for Tommy John surgery, he would be looking at a mid-2016 return to the mound.
Brett Anderson, LHP
2015 Stats: 3 G, 1-1, 5.40 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 8 K, 2 BB, 21 H, 15 IP
The other starting pitcher the Dodgers signed to fill out the back end of the rotation hasn’t fared much better.
Brett Anderson has already allowed 21 hits in 15 innings this season—only two of them have left the yard.
Still, his 5.40 isn’t pretty.
If there’s one thing that Los Angeles can appreciate about Anderson so far it’s that he’s keeping the ball on the ground. The southpaw’s 58.2 percent ground-ball rate ranks 21st among the 172 major league pitchers with at least 10 innings this year (h/t Eric Stephen of True Blue LA).
The Dodgers will need Anderson to stay healthy—something he hasn’t been able to do in recent seasons—with McCarthy now out for the year and Hyun-jin Ryu still on the shelf.