One of the first moves Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman made this offseason after being hired was with his old team, the Tampa Bay Rays. He traded hard throwing reliever Jose Dominguez for veteran reliever Joel Peralta and a young left-handed reliever, Adam Liberatore.
Liberatore has since proven his worth to the team, as the 28-year-old rookie has appeared in 30 games this season, tied for second most on the team behind only Yimi Garcia. According to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been impressed by the lefty, wondering how the Rays never used him:
One of my questions with Andrew was, ‘How did they let this guy get away?’ because when I stood in with him, to me, his stuff was electric,” Mattingly. “They had 40-man issues. You get too many guys and somebody is eventually going to get taken for nothing or you make a deal.”
Liberatore made his Major League debut on April 17 of this year and has since been solid. He is 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched. He was even better in Spring Training, throwing 10.1 scoreless innings while giving up four hits and striking out nine. It was in the spring that Mattingly began to notice Liberatore’s capabilities:
Seeing him in spring training gave us a lot of confidence that this guy had really good stuff and he seemed to have the makeup that he could be a real good bullpen guy for us,” Mattingly said. “It (his repertoire) was different than what we had from the standpoint of being a power guy. Paco is more mix-and-match and J.P. is the cat-burglar type, but he’s going to throw any pitch at any time. Libs is going to come right at you and it’s power. We really liked having a little different look out of a left-hander.”
While the Dodgers bullpen in 2015 has been inconsistent, Liberatore has been one of the most consistent arms, striking out 26 while walking only seven. His 0.97 WHIP ranks seventh among National League left-handed relievers that have thrown more than five innings on the season.
With Paco Rodriguez set to miss 8-10 weeks with a an elbow injury, Liberatore will likely be one of the main arms out of the bullpen for the rest of this season.