It was reported a few days ago by Andy McCullough that after another bad outing by Chris Hatcher, Dave Roberts called the reliever into his office for a closed door meeting. The only other person at the meeting was pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.
When asked after the meeting what was talked about, Roberts told reporters that he wanted Hatcher to “reset and take a deep breath.”
At this point though, it is probably going to take a lot more than a deep breath to fix whatever problems Chris Hatcher is dealing with.
When Hatcher first came to the Dodgers in the trade that sent Dee Gordon to Miami, many people, including myself, hoped that he would be the answer to the bullpen problem. I mean, if a guy throws 98-100 mph consistently then how bad can he be right? And with the state of the bullpen the last few years, it seemed like he had to be an upgrade. However, things haven’t exactly gone as planned for the hard throwing right-hander.
In his first season with the Dodgers last year, Hatcher finished with a 3.69 ERA. Overall, it wasn’t all that bad. Hatcher pitched a total of 39 innings last season giving up 16 earned runs. It definitely wasn’t great, but it was manageable. However, the 2016 season is going much, much worse for Hatcher who currently sits with a 6.00 ERA in 18 innings pitched. He has already matched his 2015 total in both home runs and walks allowed and has given up 12 earned runs.
“I think he’s trying to be too perfect,” Roberts went on to say about Hatcher after the meeting, “He’s got great stuff and great velocity. And when you try to be too perfect and try too hard, it sometimes goes the other way. That’s why, for me, it was time to intervene and have a conversation.”
Recently on the Petros and Money Show, Roberts also had these things to say about the struggling reliever:
“Hatcher had a great second half and pitched well in the postseason last year for the Dodgers, so he earned that right [to be the 8th inning guy]. I think we as an organization still believe in him.“
“Hatch is a guy we have to keep riding out there, and put him in a position where he can have success.”
Quotes like these make it sound as if Roberts and the Dodgers still have faith in Hatcher. It sounds as if they have every intention of keeping him on the major league roster and feel that he will turn things around. Fans on the other hand, well, their patience is running thin.
Dave Roberts restates that he believes in Chris Hatcher still? Why the hell would you still believe in him Dave??? Tell me why #Dodgers
— Mikey Mike (@mikey_seymour) May 21, 2016
The definition of insanity: Trotting Chris Hatcher out in relief every night and expecting a different result. #dodgerdisappointment
— Brett Davidsen (@whec_bdavidsen) May 21, 2016
The fact that Chris hatcher is still a pitcher for the @Dodgers is laughable haha
— Michael Sandoval (@yungsandy5515) May 20, 2016
If fans did get what they wanted though, and Hatcher was sent down to the minors or released, it would put the Dodgers in a tough spot. They certainly would not just send him down and reduce the total number of bullpen pitchers. At this point, the bullpen needs as many arms as they can get.
So, the question becomes, who would the Dodgers call up to replace Hatcher? There doesn’t appear to be any obvious choices, but there are a few options in the Dodgers minor league system that could potentially work out.
Dodgers fans saw a couple of the options this week with Mike Bolsinger and Chin-hui Tsao getting the call to the majors. Bolsinger has traditionally been a starting pitcher when he is with the Dodgers but he could certainly handle being in the bullpen and could take over the long relief role. Tsao, on the other hand, had a rough few days with the Dodgers and was placed on the disabled list before yesterday’s game.
Like Bolsinger, there are other starting pitchers who would be solid additions to the Dodgers bullpen. Zach Lee, for example, has never really gotten his shot in the big leagues with the exception of a single spot start last year. It appears as though the Dodgers aren’t ready to give him a real chance at a starting role, so why not give him a chance in a bullpen that so desperately needs an upgrade. Another intriguing option that Roberts has even hinted at is 19-year-old phenom Julio Urias (but that topic is for another day).
If you aren’t a big fan of turning starting pitchers into relievers, there are a few relievers that could also potentially improve the Dodgers bullpen. Flame thrower Frankie Montas, the player many considered to be the main attraction for the Dodgers in the three-way trade involving Todd Frazier, is recovering from a rib resection and could be ready as soon as early June.
The Dodgers could also look to 27-year-old Matt West who is currently pitching for Triple-A Oklahoma City. West has a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings pitched this season and has logged 7 innings in the majors in the past, including 3 with the Dodgers last season where he gave up 0 runs and struck out 2.
I am sure that most of the fans are eager to bring up any of these players to fill in for Hatcher. I can’t say I blame anyone for that type of thinking. He clearly has not gotten the job done this season when he has been called upon.
The downside is that most of these options have very little major league experience and they may not be ready for the pressure that comes along with it. In the end though, it really can’t get much worse than it already is and bringing in a fresh new mindset and attitude to the bullpen might be just what they need to turn things around.