Coming off a season in which they led the Majors in wins and fell just short of winning the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers went into the winter without glaring needs. Beyond working to get below the luxury tax threshold, they tinkered with their roster and acquired Scott Alexander during the process.
Alexander finished the 2017 campaign with an MLB-best 73.8 percent ground ball rate. Alexander impressed during Spring Training and was one of the reasons Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remained confident in a unit that lost Brandon Morrow in free agency.
But Alexander struggled out of the gate, pitching to a 6.35 ERA and allowing opponents to bat .286/.412/.381 through his first 11 appearances. He attributed that to command being ‘just a little off.’
The Dodgers optioned Alexander to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late April and recalled him May 9. He remained with the team from that point on and was largely improved while filling a role of late-game option and multi-inning reliever.
Alexander finished the season 2-1 with three saves, a 3.68 ERA, 3.57 FIP and 1.28 WHIP in 66 innings pitched across 73 appearances. He was active for the National League Division Series, got replaced on the NL Championship Series roster by Julio Urias, then was added to the active roster for the World Series at the expense of Caleb Ferguson.
Alexander was used sparingly in the postseason, appearing in one NLDS game and three times during the World Series. Though, in two instances he only faced one batter; his remaining two appearances were each one inning in length.
With Kenley Jansen having pitched in back-to-back games, he was unavailable for the series opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Dodgers pieced the game together after getting five innings from Walker Buehler by calling on Ferguson, Erik Goeddel and Alexander.
Ferguson tossed two perfect innings, Goeddel worked a clean eighth, and Alexander converted his first save of the season despite allowing two hits. He induced a game-ending double play.
Alexander should play a key role out of the bullpen yet again, though the Dodgers will hope that it does not come with early struggles or a need to reset at Triple-A.