Oh yes, there’s going to be quite a crowd of pitchers when the Los Angeles Dodgers open up camp for Spring Training this month.
The Dodgers wanted arms this off-season, and they’ve gone and gotten them. Not content with simply having four starting pitchers fighting for the fifth rotation spot, and a group of relievers that has ballooned to ten strong, the team added one more arm for good measure, signing righty Mark Lowe to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.
Even though there is seemingly no room for Lowe in the Dodger’s 2013 bullpen mix as far as numbers are concerned, the team has sensible reasons to hedge its bets anyway. Yes, there are a lot of arms and not enough spots for all of them, but the question marks among them could reduce the number very quickly.
There’s Matt Guerrier, the 34-year old who missed almost the entire 2012 season because of an elbow issue. He avoided surgery to pitch 14 innings last year, but that’s hardly enough assurance for 2013. Javy Guerra, the team’s former closer, missed 60 games last year for a variety of health problems, though none involving his pitching arm. And of course, Kenley Jansen‘s issues with his heart have been well-documented, and the Dodgers will keep a close eye on the health of arguably its best reliever.
They can file Lowe under that category too, as the 29-year old will be coming off a rib injury that caused him to miss 33 games with the Texas Rangers. The ailment may be related to the right-hander’s significant dip in velocity in 2012, which went from the high-90s in years past to a 93.9 mph average on his fastball last season.
Getting the kind of upper-90s heat he had will be key, if Lowe is to distinguishing himself among the crowd in camp. This was a player who once topped triple-digits back in 2009, and has traditionally been a hard-thrower his entire career. For now, the minors loom, and it’ll likely take a few arms going down for Lowe to climb the depth charts enough to start the season with the team.
But, if he can light up the radar gun in Spring Training, the Dodgers will certainly be forced to pay attention.