The Los Angeles Dodgers frequently tapped into their pitching depth during the 2021 season as MLB transitioned back to a full 162-game schedule. It amounted to the club using a franchise record 39 pitchers, one of whom was newcomer Garrett Cleavinger.
The 27-year-old was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in December 2020 as part of a three-team trade that also involved the Tampa Bay Rays.
Cleavinger was a candidate to fill the left-handed void in the Dodgers bullpen created by Caleb Ferguson requiring Tommy John surgery, but he did not earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Cleavinger instead began the year at the Dodgers’ alternate site before being recalled on April 24. He made his season debut the following day against the San Diego Padres and allowed one unearned run over one inning pitched.
After appearing in seven additional games for the Dodgers, Cleavinger was placed on the 10-day injured list due to left forearm inflammation. He was sidelined for one month before returning to the big league club on June 17.
From that point on Cleavinger emerged as one of L.A.’s most reliable left-handed relievers as he tossed scoreless outings in 11 of his next 12 appearances.
Despite his success, Cleavinger was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on July 23. He rejoined the Dodgers one week later, but only appeared in two more games before going back on the 10-day IL with a right oblique strain.
While he attempted to make it back for the stretch run, Cleavinger’s season came to an end on Sept. 7 when he was transferred to the 60-day IL in order to make room for Souza on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.
Cleavinger went 2-4 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in 22 games, which included one start as an opener. In 11 games with OKC, he posted a 1-0 record, 1.54 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 25 strikeouts against five walks across 11 appearances.
Cleavinger’s 2021 highlight
From June 19-July 20, Cleavinger allowed just one run over 11 innings pitched (12 games). He went 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 1.36 WHIP during the span.
Cleavinger remains under team control and figures to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster in Spring Training.
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