2020 Los Angeles Dodgers Player Reviews: Adam Kolarek

The Los Angeles Dodgers used a total of 21 pitchers during the abbreviated 2020 season, and part of the group was Adam Kolarek, who proved to be a useful addition for the club last year.

The left-hander, acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays at the July 31 trade deadline in 2019, pitched to a superb 0.77 ERA in 26 regular-season games for the Dodgers and did not allow a run in any of his three postseason appearances.

With MLB implementing a three-batter minimum rule this season, some wondered how this would impact Kolarek, who had established himself as one of the league’s top left-handed specialists in recent years. He wound up earning a spot on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster and remained with the club through the first week of August.

When active rosters were reduced to 28 players, Kolarek was one of two players optioned to the club’s alternate site at USC. His demotion lasted all of four days, as he returned on Aug. 10 to take the spot of the injured Joe Kelly.

Similar to his first demotion, Kolarek’s stay on the Major League did not last long, as he was optioned two days later to make room for Tony Gonsolin. However, he returned to the Dodgers for a second time on Aug. 17 after Edwin Rios was placed on the injured list.

Kolarek stuck with the team for the remainder of the season. In 20 appearances, he pitched to a minuscule 0.95 ERA and held opposing left-handed batters to three hits over 40 opportunities (.077 batting average).

Kolarek was included on all four of the Dodgers’ postseason rosters, but did not appear in the National League Wild Card Series. He made his 2020 playoff debut in the NL Division Series, allowing two runs in his only outing against the San Diego Padres.

The 31-year-old went on to appear in two games against the Atlanta Braves in the NL Championship Series, yielding three runs and six hits over two innings pitched (two games).

After some early struggles, Kolarek ended his year on a good note, tossing a scoreless inning against his former Rays team in Game 4 of the World Series.

2020 highlight

From July 23-Sept. 6, Kolarek was virtually untouchable as he did not allow a run over his first 12 appearances of the regular season (12.1 innings). Over that stretch, he yielded just six hits and struck out eight batters without issuing a walk.

2021 outlook

Kolarek is not scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2025 season. He also isn’t eligible for salary arbitration until 2022.

Barring an offseason trade, Kolarek figures to once again factor into the Dodgers’ plans next year. He is one of five left-handed relievers currently on the 40-man roster, along with Scott Alexander, Caleb Ferguson, Victor Gonzalez and potentially Julio Urias.

Ferguson, however, is expected to miss all of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September. Urias, meanwhile, could re-enter the starting rotation depending on other moves this offseason.

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