When the Los Angeles Dodgers reported for Spring Training this year, the bullpen was largely unchanged from the 2015 season. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman didn’t view it as a negative, despite the group’s inconsistency, believing experienced gained would prove beneficial.
One addition was the signing of long reliever Joe Blanton, who was previously with the Dodgers — as a starting pitcher — in 2012. Other moves included the signing of Louis Coleman and Jamey Wright to Minor League contracts.
Given Los Angeles returned a slew of right-handed relievers, Coleman and Wright were perceived to be long shots to make the Opening Day roster. Wright has since retired after 19 seasons, while Coleman went on to impress during Cactus League play.
Coleman appeared in 10 games, posting a 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and totaling 12 strikeouts to zero walks in 12 innings pitched. His first nine appearances were all scoreless outings.
Part of a deep Kansas City Royals bullpen, Coleman spent much of last season in Triple-A. However, he’s using his previous success as a barometer and as fuel with the Dodgers, via Bill Plunkett of the O.C. Register:
“The way I’ve always looked at it – every middle reliever is always going to have to win a job at some point every year,” he said. “If you’re a middle reliever, you’ve got to earn a job. Why not do it with the Dodgers, a team that’s already stacked up and ready to go? I’ve been a part of the Royals, who had the best bullpen the last three, four years. I was able to crack it, every now and then. So if I was able to get into that one, I feel I could get into a lot of bullpens and this is a really good one. So hopefully, I can crack it.”
Coleman had a superb 2013 season for the Royals, but a finger injury the following year threw him off course, which he’s yet to completely recover from. Coleman lost his spot with the Royals to Ryan Madson, in a decision that’s impossible to argue against given the results.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts spoke highly of Coleman’s effectiveness earlier this spring, citing the different perception right-handed and left-handed batters have when facing the 29-year-old reliever.
While Coleman is out of options, Luis Avilan, Pedro Baez and Yimi Garcia are not. Given how well Coleman’s pitched, the Dodgers would be hard pressed sneaking him through waivers so that he could then be stashed in Triple-A Oklahoma City.