When the Los Angeles Dodgers set their 25-man roster for the 2015 season president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman acknowledged difficulty in making some decisions, but found comfort in the depth he and general manager Farhan Zaidi accumulated throughout the offseason.
Among the players who performed well enough in Spring Training to warrant a spot on the Opening Day roster was relief pitcher Adam Liberatore. Along with Joel Peralta, the left-hander was acquired, and reunited with Friedman, in a November trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.
When it became known Liberatore would begin the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, Friedman said the 28 year old would get an opportunity with the Dodgers at some point during the season.
That moment came April 17 when Liberatore made his Major-League debut and recorded one strikeout in a scoreless inning of relief. It was a precursor of what’s to come as he’s now thrown 9.2 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and racking up 10 strikeouts.
After earning his second hold of the season in the Dodgers’ walk-off win Monday, manager Don Mattingly offered insight into how he views Liberatore. “He’s probably our more power lefty that you feel better with righties, or lefty,” Mattingly said.
“More than Paco [Rodriguez] and J.P [Howell]. J.P. is really that guy, too. But it’s not power. Liberatore is power and he locates well.” Liberatore retired the first 12 batters he faced and collected four strikeouts along the way before giving up the lone base hit.
Since that point, he’s gone on to strikeout six of the 16 consecutive batters he’s retired and has a 0.10 WHIP. Comparatively, Paco Rodriguez has six strikeouts and given up one run on three hits in seven innings, good for a 1.23 ERA and 0.86 WHIP.
J.P. Howell also has six strikeouts, though in 9.2 innings, giving up 12 hits and one run while posting a 0.93 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.
In three relief appearances with OKC this season Liberatore has five strikeouts in three innings and allowed one run on three hits. He owns a career 2.69 ERA and has 314 strikeouts in 321 innings over six seasons in the Minors.