After appearing in 17 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, 13 of which were starts, Carlos Frias’ 2016 season will be remembered for a much different reason. In September, he became the 28th different player the Dodgers put on the disabled list.
That broke a Major League record previously held by the 2012 Boston Red Sox who finished 69-93 that year and in last place in the American League East.
As the Dodgers lost multiple pitchers to injury during Spring Training, Frias was left as one of the final candidates for the fifth-starter job. That was eventually given to Ross Stripling, and Frias began the year with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
However, he strained an oblique muscle during a bullpen session on April 7 and was placed on the disabled list two days later. Frias didn’t debut until May 12, throwing three innings with three strikeouts for Double-A Tulsa.
After a second start with the Drillers, the right-hander re-joined Oklahoma City. He went 3-3 with a 4.46 ERA over eight games (four starts). During that span the Dodgers recalled Frias from OKC — June 19 — though he did not appear in a game.
Frias joined the club a second time this season on July 7, and provided four scoreless innings of relief. It came in a losing effort but provided needed rest for a weary bullpen.
The 26-year-old was optioned to OKC the following day, though never appeared in a game the remainder of the season. Oklahoma City put the right-hander on the Minor League DL on July 14.
Although his staff was brief, Frias’ lone Major League appearance was a bright spot in an injury-shortened season. He collected three strikeouts over the four shutout innings against the San Diego Padres, earning praise from manager Dave Roberts.
“Carlos, coming in here in this situation, had to eat up innings for the ‘pen,” Roberts said at the time. “He did exactly what we needed.”
Frias’ relief outing came on the heels of the bullpen throwing a combined 34 innings over one-week span.
Under the assumption he manages to recover from his oblique issues, and remain healthy next season, Frias could fill a valuable role for the Dodgers next season. Particularly if the club does not have a clear-cut option for a long reliever.