Through the first two months of the season, Los Angeles Dodgers have already used nine starting pitchers. Due to injuries to Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery, and Brandon McCarthy, who recently had season-ending Tommy John surgery, manager Don Mattingly and the Dodgers front office has mixed and matched to fill out the rotation.
While it appears that Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias have grabbed hold of the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, respectively, pitching well in recent weeks, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has maintained he’s never comfortable with pitching depth and is always searching for more.
On Tuesday the team announced the signing of Cuban right-handed pitcher Pablo Fernandez. The 25 year old was signed to a minor league contract with an $8 million signing bonus. While Fernandez primarily was used as a reliever throughout his career, the Dodgers have a different plan.
“We’re going to stretch him out as a starter,” Friedman said. “We’ve talked to him about it and he’s excited about it. He’s got a five-pitch mix and has a really good feel for pitching. He’s shown good command throughout his career and he’s kind of got the ‘El Duque’ Orlando Hernandez delivery, which a lot of Cuban pitchers have.
“He idolizes him and wants to pitch like him, which wouldn’t be a bad outcome. We’re going to get him to Arizona as well and start the process of stretching him out. At some point send him out to a team and have a much better sense then. The upside scenario is he’s a starter for us at some point this year.”
Fernandez was 32-30 with 40 saves in his seven seasons in Cuba, and 156 of his 177 games were in relief. Since the 2008-09 season he has only made one start.
With the amount of starters the Dodgers have already used this season, it is not unrealistic to believe that Fernandez will be up at some point and contributing at the big league level this season. Friedman indicated Hector Olivera, who was also officially signed Tuesday, should too see time in the Majors this season.
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