The Dodgers Opening Day roster has been decided. Except for the final 26th spot. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts admitted during Monday’s pregame press conference they’re deciding between lefty Scott Alexander and righty Dennis Santana.
“The last piece of our 26 man roster is that last bullpen piece. We’re still finalizing between Dennis and Scotty.”
Alexander dealt with an injury riddled 2019 highlighted by a nerve issue in his thumb. He pitched in just 28 games. Like many, the beginning of his 2020 campaign was interrupted when he tested positive for COVID-19. He arrived late to summer camp, but made the Opening Day roster. The lefty struggled with his control (9 BB in 12.1 IP) before he was sent to the alternate site for the reminder of the season.
Alexander provides value in his ability to get left-handed batters out. For his career, Alexander has allowed a .309 OBP against left-handed batters. Conversely, right-handed batters own a .342 OBP against the Santa Rosa, CA native.
The three batter minimum rule certainly affects how the Dodgers evaluate Alexander’s candidacy.
In his young career, Santana has pitched in 16 major league games. The numbers might not be pretty (6.66 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 25.2 IP), but Santana’s best was on display in late July last year against the Houston Asterisks.
Ice in his veins ???
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 30, 2020
With the game tied 2-2 in extras, Santana got the final seven outs and the victory. He struck out George Springer and Kyle Tucker (Houston’s top prospect) looking. He coaxed Carlos Correa into a ground ball double play. Santana did walk two, but he didn’t allow a single hit.
It’s just one game, but it was a glimpse at Santana’s ceiling as a major league hurler.
The guy who gave up the lead before Santana was inserted in the bottom of the 11th? None other than Scott Alexander.
Alexander has put in a tremendous amount of effort to get back to being major league ready. He can get left-handed batters out. He’s a known commodity. Clearly the safe(er) choice.
With Victor and Price as lefties in the bullpen, who do you want between:
— Tim Rogers ?? (@SDDodger) March 30, 2021
But due to the depth of the Dodgers pitching staff, they can afford to roll the dice on a high-upside youngster like Santana. He’s pitched well this spring (10K in 8.1 IP) and has been regarded as a top-10 prospect in LA’s system.
2020 World Series hero Victor Gonzalez and 2018 World Series hero David Price have proven their capabilities of delivering in the late innings as lefty relievers.
It’s time to let Santana prove himself this April.