Don’t Forget About Stephen Fife!
By Scott Andes
What does the Dodger’s recent signing of Dan Haren mean for Stephen Fife? Most people forget about our goggled starter, but lest we not forget about the Fifster. We remember how solid Fife pitched for the Dodgers in 2013 before his second trip to the disabled list for a sore shoulder during the summer months of last season.
The Fifster was acquired from the Red Sox in July of 2011 in the Trayvon Robinson trade, along with catcher Tim Federowicz. The Fifster a 27-year-old right hander, relies heavily on a two-seamer, change-up, and curveball to effectively induce ground balls. After Fife’s first DL trip because of shoulder bursitis, he was pretty damned good. From June 3, through July 6, Fife made seven starts, posting a 3-3 record, and a 0.95 ERA. Fife allowed just ten earned runs in those seven starts, averaging about six innings of work each time on the bump.
The Fifster-Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately. Fife succumbed to a second bout of shoulder bursitis and had to be disabled once again. When he came back after the second DL stint, the Dodgers tried to turn him into a reliever which failed. Overall, Fife pitched in 12 games in 2013, two in relief. The right hander posted a 4-4 record, with a 3.86 ERA. Fife whiffed 45 and walked 20 in 58 innings pitched.
Now that the Dodgers have signed Dan Haren to a one year ten million dollar deal, and coupled with the returns of Josh Beckett, and Chad Billingsley, should probably send Fife back to Albuquerque for the start of the 2014 season.
But with the questionable health of both Beckett, and Billingsley, Fife is going to be an important depth piece for the Dodgers once again in 2014. Billingsley is coming off of Tommy John surgery, and we all know that Beckett is cooked. We could once again see Stephen Fife returning to the fifth spot in the rotation once Beckett returns to the disabled list, and or retires from his arm being cooked to a crisp. Let’s face the facts here, Beckett sucks, and isn’t anywhere near the pitcher he used to be.
The signing of Haren doesn’t necessarily mean the Dodgers won’t go after another starting pitcher, and it doesn’t mean they are out of the running for Masahiro Tanaka, or anyone else. What it does mean is that with the Haren signing securing the fourth spot in the rotation, the Dodgers have less to worry about with the starting staff.
I think the Dodgers will probably go after one more starting pitcher, but the signing of Haren probably means that Fife will not be the guy for the Dodgers in 2014. They’ll stash him in the minors until they really need him, much like they did last year. That doesn’t mean we should forget about him. If history tells us anything about the Dodger’s injury luck, it tells us that we’re probably going to need him.