The Los Angeles Dodgers spent much of last season with J.P. Howell as the lone lefty in their bullpen. Paul Maholm bounced the starting rotation and bullpen before suffering a season-ending knee injury in August, Paco Rodriguez was up and down from the Minors, and Daniel Coulombe and Scott Elbert were September call-ups.
As was the case in 2014, Howell and Rodriguez are both included on the Dodgers’ 25-man roster. For Rodriguez, he’s looking for a longer stay this time around as he was optioned to the Minors last season once Brian Wilson was reinstated from the disabled list in mid-April.
Rodriguez certainly made his case during Spring Training to not only make the roster but stick with the Dodgers, and he caught the eye of president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, via Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider:
"Paco probably generated some of worst swings out of hitters this camp," said Friedman, who values his experience. "Lib will get his chance.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) April 5, 2015
The 23 year old again again worked on improving his mechanics and it’s paid dividends. Rodriguez threw 10.2 scoreless inning across 11 spring games, recorded 13 strikeouts and allowed just four hits, limiting opponents to a .108 batting average.
Rodriguez was a key piece out of the bullpen for the Dodgers in 2013 but faltered down the stretch of the season due to fatigue. On top of shuttling back and forth between the Minors last season, he suffered a teres major strain in August and was placed on the disabled list. He then experienced a setback in his recovery and never regained form.
As for Adam Liberatore, who Friedman mentioned will get an opportunity, he too didn’t allow a run in any of his spring relief appearances — 10.1 innings over 11 games. As Weisman notes, Friedman values experience and Liberatore has yet to advance past Triple-A since being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010.
Moreover, while Liberatore was impressive in his first camp with the Dodgers, being a pitcher with Minor League options was likely his biggest fault — a fate Rodriguez is all too familiar with.
Paco Rodriguez Worked On Improving Mechanics