Dodgers 2016 Player Review: J.P. Howell
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 season for Los Angeles Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell could be best described as a roller coaster of production. Howell exercised his player option to remain with the Dodgers for the final year of his contract.

He figured to be a prominent piece of manager Dave Roberts’ bullpen, which ultimately may have very well played a role in Howell’s decline. The lack of depth amongst the starting rotation truly demonstrated how strong this bullpen was.

While never complaining, the unit understood they would be called up more than they thought. Never appearing in less than nine games during a single month, Howell’s production throughout the season was sporadic.

He imploded against the San Francisco Giants in back-to-back April appearances, allowing a combined six runs without recording an out. Howell finished the month with a 9.00 ERA in seven innings pitched.

The 33-year-old rebounded from the poor start to the season, allowing five runs over 21 appearances throughout May and June. Howell carried that success into July, all the while fully embracing how much Roberts was leaning on his bullpen.

In 10 innings pitched over 12 appearances in July, Howell allowed one run via a solo homer, seven hits, and had nine strikeouts. August was a much different story for Howell.

In 11.2 innings, he permitted 10 runs on 21 hits, though did manage to collect 13 strikeouts. Howell’s struggles, coupled with Grant Dayton’s rise, led to the veteran largely taking a backset.

When looking back at Howell’s season, his splits against right-handed hitters showed why his role changed to more of a specialist. He yielded a 5.19 ERA and 1.46 WHIP against right-handed hitters, while holding a 2.99 ERA and 1.34 WHIP against lefties.

Unfortunately for Howell, Roberts and management elected to leave him off both postseason rosters. Howell finished the season with a 1-1 record to go along with a 4.09 ERA, 3.50 FIP and 1.40 WHIP.

2016 Highlight

During a May 22 marathon contest against the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers bullpen was called on for 12 innings. Having already used six relievers, Roberts called on Howell in a long relief role in the 12th inning.

The southpaw rose to the occasion by delivering three scoreless innings. Howell only allowed a single and had three strikeouts on 35 pitches.

2017 Outlook

Considering the rise of Dayton and the presence of Luis Avilan and Adam Liberatore, it’s unlikely Howell returns for another season with the Dodgers.

He nonetheless figures to draw interest from other clubs, as the 11-year veteran has accomplished plenty during his career and can still bring value out of the bullpen.