Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
So, how about Carlos Frias, huh? An excellent game yesterday, pitching 6 innings, striking out 4, walking 1, giving up no runs. That gave him a single game FIP of 2.29 which is excellent, the Dodgers lost the game in excruciating fashion, but in horrible, ugly, games, sometimes there are gems that come out of it. Like Pedro Baez being a serviceable reliever which admittedly catapults him into a top 5 reliever on the roster, but Carlos Frias has shaken things up thus far. Am I overreacting after one good start?
Well take into account that Frias pitched most of this season in AAA, the pitching nightmare known as Albuquerque. Lets also note that in the 91.2 innings pitched he compiled there. A soon to be 25 year old putting up a 5.01 ERA in AAA seems like a non-prospect. However context is important. A 25 year old putting up a 3.60 FIP in Albuquerque is actually way more impressive. He struck out 16% of batters, and walked 5.3% of batters which is good for a 3.10 K/BB, mix that with a ridiculously low 0.39 HR/9 rate, and you have a solid pitcher once everything normalizes. Now? Well he’s putting up almost identical numbers in the show, a 3.47 FIP, 17.5 K% and a 3.8 BB% with a higher 0.89 HR/9 rate. This is of course, in 20 innings so small sample size should be considered for sure.
It might sound like i’m talking about the next productive starter for the Dodgers, I don’t think I am. Frias still didn’t get out of rookie ball until he was in his 4th professional season, he repeated basically every step along the minor league ladder save for AAA. He isn’t a great bet to start producing at a good rate in the big leagues still. And I know how weak the “well hey, this one player was bad for a long time and then figured it out and became good”, but there are examples. Hell, Corey Kluber‘s career arc is way weirder than Frias’s. Am I comparing the two? Only in the sense that it’s within the realm of reason that Frias becomes a good pitcher because he’s shown something at the highest chain of the minor league ladder, and much stranger things have happened within the organization (hey, Dee Gordon).
The thing that’s most underrated, is Frias could provide a cheap, young, good option for next year and the subsequent years. That’s clearly the most significant part of all this mainly because the long relief/ back end starters within the system have died, exploded, or both. Zach Lee, Chris Reed, Ross Stripling are ineffective for many reasons, but they are not major league starting options. And with a team that actually gave significant starts to Kevin Correia -who is inexplicably still on the roster-, and is currently relying on Roberto Hernandez heavily, a cheap, young, good option is needed desperately.
Hopefully Carlos Frias somehow fills the need of a back end starter or swingman, because the Dodgers surely need that position filled with someone reliable and decent.