Towards the end of the 2013 season, Chris Withrow quickly became one of the Los Angeles Dodgers most reliable relievers. At the end of the year, the 24-year-old all but had a spot heading into the 2014 season, but he may be the odd man out.
First, let’s take a look at Withrow’s journey to the majors. The former starter was drafted by the Dodgers in 2007 with the 20th overall pick. Plagued by an injury shortly after being drafted, the Dodgers continued to give him opportunities within the farm system once he was able to return. Initially posting impressive numbers in Double A at such a young age, the organization stuck with him as he battled control issues in the minor leagues.
Four years in Double A later, Withrow’s command began to suffer and he made the inevitable switch to the bullpen. Proving to be an effective reliever, he was eventually moved up to Triple A in 2013 and was finally called up to the big leagues on June 10. Withrow certainly establishd himself as a dependable reliever once he was there. The 24 year old had a 0.95 WHIP with a 2.60 ERA, striking out 43 batters in 34.2 innings pitched. His command also was better as he had a K/BB rate of 3.31 and a SO/9 rate of 11.2.
The reliever has pitched in 4.1 innings in Spring Training so far, striking out four batters yet also giving up four runs. However, it isn’t his performance that has him on the outside looking in, but off-season additions this year make it tough to see Withrow make the team. Before the organization added relievers Chris Perez and Jamey Wright to the bullpen mix, the Dodgers already had six relievers under contract including Brian Wilson, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Brandon League and Paco Rodriguez.
The team also has to consider the addition of Paul Maholm. Although he’s traditionally a starter, both he and Josh Beckett have expressed their willingness to move to the bullpen if needed. While Beckett had an impressive first start, his start yesterday against the Mariners raised a cause for concern. It isn’t clear where Maholm fits if he isn’t a starter, but he’s made it clear he’d accept a bullpen role.
The 24-year-old right-hander adds to the incredible depth of the Dodgers pitching staff. The fact that Withrow has proven that he can be an asset to the bullpen and if someone goes down with an injury, he’s likely to be the first man called.
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