Sergio Santos threw just his third spring training inning, making his third appearance for the Dodgers on Thursday evening at Peoria against the Padres. He looked impressive, pitching a scoreless frame, and whiffing two batters. The 31-year old right hander is a Southern California native, born in Los Angeles, and attending high school in Santa Ana.
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Santos has a great chance of not only making the Dodger’s opening day roster, but perhaps even filling in at closer while Kenley Jansen is on the mend from foot surgery. Santos has pitched three scoreless innings for the Dodgers this spring, not allowing a hit or run and whiffing four.
Santos was drafted in the first round of the 2002 amateur draft by the Arizona Dbacks, and was trade to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2005 along with Troy Glaus for Miguel Batista, and former Dodger Orlando Hudson. However he didn’t make his MLB debut until 2010. Santos was originally an infielder, primarily a shortstop and was converted to a pitcher in 2009.
Santos ended up with the White Sox in 2010, and it was with the Pale Hose that he converted from the infield to the mound. Santos pitched 25 consecutive scoreless frames on the road in 2011, to set a new Major League record. He actually pitched 30 consecutive scoreless frames if you count back to the previous season.
Santos wasn’t much of a hitter, but had a live arm. He pitched in 56 games with Chicago in 2010, posting a 2.96 ERA, and a 3.10 FIP. That season he whiffed 56 and walked 26 for a 9.8 strikeout per nine rate. The next season in 2011 he pitched in 63 games, posting a 3.55 ERA/2.87 FIP with 92 whiffs and 29 walks in 63.1 innings pitched. That year he posted the highest strikeout rate of his career (13.1) although he also posted a troublesome walk per nine rate of 4.1. That season he saved 30 games for the White Sox.
In 2012 he was traded to the Blue Jays for Nestor Molina. That season he pitched in just six games after suffering from right shoulder inflammation. Eventually he would need shoulder surgery to correct the injury.
In 2013, Santos was expected to be the closer for Toronto, but once again had to succumb to surgery. He had a triceps strain, and then had to have surgery on his right elbow to clean up bone spurs. Despite the injuries, Santos pitched very well in 2013. In 29 games he posted a 1.75 ERA/1.85 FIP with 28 whiffs and just 4 walks in 25.2 innings pitched.
Call to the Pen
The 2014 season was a struggle for Santos, who pitched in 26 games, but posted an 8.57 ERA and walked 18 in 21 innings pitched. All total Santos has posted a career 11.4 strikeout per nine rate, and a 3.89 ERA/3.29 FIP in 180 games. He has 39 career Major League saves. On January 8, 2015 he signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers.
Santos has had control problems throughout his career though. His career walk per nine rate is 4.4, as he has allowed 81 free passes in his 166.2 innings pitched.
Santos primarily throws three pitches, a four-seam fastball, that can reach up 96-97 on the gun. He has a slider, and a changeup. Santos has stated that he is willing to take over the closer role until Kenley Jansen returns from his foot surgery.
Santos had experience pitching in a setup role, and as a closer. If he stays healthy, continues to impress, then there is a very good chance he could not only make the Dodger’s opening day roster, but possibly see some time in the ninth inning as well. He definitely has the ability to miss bats.