On Sunday, the Dodgers optioned right-handed reliever Casey Sadler to make room on the active roster for Hyun-Jin Ryu.
There has been a lot of skepticism regarding the decision since he has been one of their more reliable bullpen arms since being acquired. In 12 1/3 innings for the Dodgers, Sadler has allowed one earned run on seven hits while striking out eight and walking four. On the season, he has pitched 31 2/3 innings with a 1.42 ERA, 19 strikeouts, and nine walks.
So why would they option a guy who has thrown the ball well this season when the bullpen has struggled?
I get Yimi is out of options but he isn’t destined to be part of the post season. Why send Sadler down?
— Lisa Hickman (@tlclisahickman) August 11, 2019
One reason is Sadler has options left. The Dodgers were able to send him to the minors without putting him on waivers, which risks losing him. As rosters expand in September, they’re not going to want to give any reliever away two weeks before that.
That brings us to the bigger reason. The Dodgers are trying to build their best bullpen for October baseball. They’re doing that by giving everyone tryouts to see who sticks. Come September, when everyone is on the roster, Dave Roberts is going to be trying a lot of different things with the bullpen. Having more options available increases the odds of finding a strong group of eight.
Sadler made his case for the postseason roster and he will be back up soon to continue it. For now, the Dodgers can continue to evaluate their other pitchers.
A more minor reason is Sadler’s peripherals suggest he hasn’t been as great as the ERA shows. With a FIP of 4.06, K/9 of 5.40, BABIP of .223 and a LOB% of 90.4%, Sadler is likely due for some regression. In a small sample of four August innings, batters reached base 47% of the time while he was on the mound. He doesn’t have a track record of being a quality bullpen arm so it is a reason to worry.
The Dodgers know how most of their bullpen will look during the playoffs and Sadler is on the outside looking in right now. Quality stuff and high strikeout rates play up in October and Sadler just isn’t that type of pitcher.
Looking to their playoff pen, Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly, and Julio Urias are locks. Adam Kolarek is probably close to a lock as their left-handed specialist. One of Kenta Maeda or Dustin May will take a spot (whoever isn’t starting). Tony Gonsolin has strong odds as he can go multiple innings with three filthy pitches and Rich Hill will probably make it as a third lefty since Urias will be used in a multi-inning role.
That’s eight relievers who are probably ahead of Sadler on the depth chart. After that, he is in a battle with Yimi Garcia, J.T. Chargois, Caleb Ferguson, Ross Stripling, and Dylan Floro to be the next man called on.
Even with an idea of how their pen will look, the Dodgers are going to continue to shuffle their relievers around until the end of the regular season and Sadler was just the next man to go in that shuffle.