Since coming over in a 2016 trade with the Houston Astros, Josh Fields has been a pretty consistent piece of what has been a strong Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen. In 2018, Fields posted his best season yet — a 2.20 ERA (3.62 FIP) in 45 appearances
That was despite some worrying peripherals. While the ERA looks good, Fields struck out less batters per nine innings (7.24) by a wide margin, which is concerning for a 33-year-old reliever who has relied on the strikeout.
From 2014-16, Fields’ strikeouts per nine was over 11. Perhaps even more troubling, however, is the fact that a shoulder injury kept Fields out for a large chunk of the season.
On June 28, he was placed on the 10-day disabled list with “right shoulder inflammation” retroactive to June 27. Fields didn’t end up returning until Sept. 4 and was never active during the team’s postseason run.
On May 20, Fields earned his second save of the season in a 7-2 win over the Nationals. He actually entered the game with two outs in the eighth (the score was 5-2 at the time), with runners at first and second.
Fields induced an inning-ending groundout and while the Dodgers scored two runs in the top of the ninth, Fields came back out in the ninth to close it out.
Fields was tendered a contract ahead of last Friday’s arbitration deadline, which makes sense given his contributions over the past few seasons.
Heading into 2019, Fields will be given every opportunity to establish himself as a key part of the team’s bullpen — assuming he can find success despite a declining strikeout rate.