Alex Verdugo quickly made the most of his increased opportunities with the Los Angeles Dodgers and became one of many bright spots in the 2019 season thus far. The team’s bullpen, on the other hand, has not enjoyed the same success.
While Caleb Ferguson and Dylan Floro stepped up to support Kenley Jansen in the early going, both then faltered. Joe Kelly has struggled mightily after joining the team as a free agent in the offseason, and Yimi Garcia also looks like a shell of his former self.
The Dodgers reportedly have interest in Cleveland Indians closer Brad Hand, and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman previously said the team would likely address the bullpen prior to the July 31 trade deadline.
While the bullpen has faced scrutiny, there was a light moment earlier this season when Russell Martin came on to finish an 18-5 blowout victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks and pitched a spotless inning. The veteran catcher later said he “jumped” at the chance to make his pitching debut.
If the Dodgers are to find themselves in need of a position player on the mound, Verdugo recently said he’s campaigned for the opportunity, via SportsNet LA:
“I already have (asked the coaching staff if I could pitch). They won’t let me. They won’t let me. I told them I won’t even air it out. I’ll throw a couple in there, maybe 92 or 93 (mph). Just show it off a little bit. But they won’t let me get out on the bump.”
The Dodgers’ reluctance is certainly understandable. Verdugo is still a developing rookie who is better off focused on his play in the field and at the plate.
Though, he’s already demonstrated a strong arm on multiple occasions, including with a 98 mph strike to home plate to record an assist. More recently, he made a terrific throw at Tropicana Field to cut down a runner at third base.
While there’s been a trend of teams calling on a position player to pitch in a game that’s well in hand, the Dodgers haven’t joined the wave. In 2018, Kiké Hernandez was sent to the mound in the 16th inning, and only after the Dodgers essentially exhausted all other options.