Our next preview looks at the Dodgers’ newest reliever, Louis Coleman.
Louis Coleman is a former Kansas City Royals’ reliever, which means he’s probably really really good.
Coleman had a dominant 2015 season for the Royals, posting a 0.00 ERA. Unfortunately, he only threw three innings at the major league level and spent most of the season in AAA. He was great at Omaha, as he posted a 1.69 ERA in 64 innings with 63 strikeouts and 23 walks allowed. He had a bit of closer experience last year, finishing 24 games for the Omaha Storm Chasers and recording nine saves.
Coleman had been a solid reliever for the first three years of his major league career, but struggled hard in 2014 with a 5.56 ERA/5.69 FIP. Those 34 innings definitely seem to be an outlier, but the Royals DFA’d Coleman when they signed Ian Kennedy this offseason.
2016 Role and Steamers Projections.
Coleman should have a bit of a battle for a bullpen role, as the Dodgers have a lot of names competing for bullpen spots. There aren’t many position battles to keep an eye out on, but there are a lot of bullpen candidates and the difference might come down to whether players can be optioned or not (Coleman cannot). Steamers has really conservative projections for Coleman with only one inning thrown in 2016.
ZiPS provides a little more of a broad projection, with a projected 67 innings. They project him to be a little closer to his old self, with a 3.61 ERA/3.76 FIP. He has a 3.20 career ERA and a 4.30 career FIP, so he’s consistently outpitched his FIP. The 60ish point FIP drop seems a bit generous, but the transition from AL Central to NL West should be a bit favorable.
What Could Go Wrong?
If Coleman repeats his 2014 season, he’ll likely not be long for the Dodger bullpen. Coleman was seemingly used poorly in 2014, as the right had 105 plate appearances against righties and only 49 against lefties. Coleman was good against lefties in 2014, allowing a .233/.327/.302 triple slash and 10 strikeouts to six walks in 49 plate appearances. In 105 plate appearances against righties, Coleman allowed a .319/.400/.571 line and 14 strikeouts to 12 walks.
That year is a definite outlier, as despite that nightmarish 2014, Coleman has faired much better against righties than lefties in his career. He’s allowed a solid .238/.327/.413 triple slash in his career against lefties, but has dominated righties to a .216/.304/.393 slash. If Coleman fails to bring his numbers back down to his career norms, the Dodgers will probably have to make a tough decision on whether to keep him around.
What Could Go Right?
If Coleman finds the magic from his past, he could be a vital piece to the Dodgers’ bullpen puzzle. His 2014 should obviously not be ignored and it’s a bit concerning that he didn’t get back to the majors until September 2015, but when Coleman is good he’s a very good seventh or eighth inning option. He will be 30 on Opening Day and is out of options, so he’ll more likely than not get an opportunity.
If Coleman can get back to dominating righties while remaining solid against lefties, he could be an absolute steal. He’s signed to a one-year, $725,000 contract and is eligible for arbitration for the first time next offseason, so this was a very solid low-risk, high reward signing. It’s not the splash and we would all feel better if a dominant reliever was acquired in the offseason, preferably one that didn’t fire a gun in his garage due to an argument. But if Coleman works out, he could be one of the better bullpen arms for the Dodgers.
He has a track record of success and 2014 seems like a pretty large outlier. While he hasn’t received much attention and his signing was pretty unceremonious, Coleman could potentially be a stabilizing figure in the pen.