The Los Angeles Dodgers found a diamond in the rough last season in Mike Bolsinger as injuries depleted their starting rotation. Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash considerations in November 2014, Bolsinger had a strong showing in May, going 3-1 with a 1.05 ERA in four starts (25.2 innings pitched).
However, he slowed in the coming months, posting a 4.40 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in June, and 3.00 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in July. The three-team trade with the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins that netted the Dodgers Mat Latos and Alex Wood bumped Bolsinger back to Triple-A Oklahoma City until active rosters expanded in September.
Overall, Bolsinger finished 6-6 with a 3.62 ERA, 3.91 FIP and 1.36 WHIP in 21 starts for the Dodgers last season. With the club again needing to fill out the rotation because of injuries, Bolsinger won the Spring Training competition to be named the fifth starter.
That was washed away, however, with the right-hander suffering an oblique strain. Bolsinger has since recovered from the injury but struggled through a start on Monday. “I honestly felt good,” he said of his outing against the Colorado Rockies.
“[Monday] was the first day my fastball really felt like I had control of it. I was getting ahead of guys but giving up hits, and an 0-2 walk to (Charlie) Blackmon, you can’t do that.” Bolsinger allowed six runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in 5.1 innings.
He’s yet to complete six innings in a start, with a season high of 5.2 innings pitched. The 28 year old encountered trouble when going through the Rockies lineup a third time. In his career, opponents are batting .331/.412/.597 in such instances, and .310/.430/.552 during his time with the Dodgers.
However, Bolsinger doesn’t subscribe to the theory of that being a major hurdle. “I think last year I got posterized as someone that goes one time through the lineup, and I was taken out early in games,” he said.
“That stinks, to have that put on me, because I really don’t think that’s who I am. I can go out there and throw 120 pitches in a game, I have a rubber arm. Last year, it kind of put a label on me.”
Bolsinger admitted to still needing to improve his conditioning in light of the oblique injury. Along with that, he called on resisting the urge to perfectly spin his off-speed pitches. “I think I get carried away and try to be too fine with my off-speed pitches. … It’s like a golf swing. If you swing too hard you’re probably not going to hit very solid,” Bolsinger said.
“When you throw off-speed pitches and try to do too much, they’re not going to do anything. I feel like I lose focus and try to do too much later in the games rather than do what I did the innings before. I think that’s probably the biggest thing I’m going to have to overcome.”
In the second inning, Bolsinger got ahead 0-2 in the count against Gerardo Parra, only to give up a solo home run two pitches later on a hanging slider. Nick Hundley turned on an 0-2 slider for an RBI single to extend the Rockies’ lead with an RBI single in the fifth.
After Blackmon drew the sixth-inning walk that Bolsinger lamented, Nolan Arenado poked a slider into center field for an RBI single. The flood gates opened two batters later when Bolsinger intentionally walked Carlos Gonzalez, as Trevor Story crushed a hanging breaking ball for a three-run homer.
For all his troubles, Bolsinger wasn’t done any favors by a quiet Dodgers offense that managed just one hit and one run. Even with the shaky start he took away some positive.
“I’m putting myself in a good position,” Bolsinger said. “I’m just not taking advantage of it.”