Dodgers: Addressing How the New Pitchers Fit with the Dodgers

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 02: Yu Darvish
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 02: Yu Darvish /
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Tony Watson, LHP

Heading into the MLB Trade Deadline at 73-31, the Dodgers didn’t have many holes on their roster. Yet still, that didn’t stop the front office from scavenging through other team’s roster to find potential upgrades for the club.

One of the biggest needs the Dodgers determined was the need for a left-handed reliever. In a National League that is massively dominant by left-handed power hitters like Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Charlie Blackmon, Jacke Lamb and Anthony Rizzo; the need for a dominant lefty out of the bullpen was evident for the club.

The Dodgers’ bullpen has dominated the season despite only one major left-hander in the bullpen, Luis Avilan. Avilan has had some help with Grant Dayton appearing in 29 games this season, but Dayton has struggled with injuries this season and quite frankly hasn’t been that effective when healthy.

Fast forward to the July 31st deadline the front office was working diligently to get that left-handed reliever. The Dodgers were linked to the top left-handed relievers on the market like Zach Britton and Brad Hand. Neither player was dealt, and that shifted Friedman’s focus to the Pirates’ Tony Watson.

The Dodgers traded infielder Oneil Cruz and Angel German to the Pirates for Tony Watson. Oneil Cruz was the Dodgers 21st ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline’s rankings and German failed to crack the Dodgers top prospect list.

Watson, on the other hand, is a 32-year-old veteran that is having a down season by his standards. Watson has a 3.66 ERA in 46 2/3 innings this season. He has a pedestrian 6.8 K/9 and 2.77 BB/9. Watson served as the Pirates closer earlier this season, so he has some experience in high pressured situations.

When you look at Watson’s splits this season they certainly leave a lot to be desired. This season Watson has allowed a .303/.352/.348 slash rate to left-handers with only 13 strikeouts in 66 at-bats. That isn’t the type of production the Dodgers are looking for.

But when you dive deeper into the statistics you notice that there have only been three extra base hits off him, and he’s only allowed four runs to score off left-handed hitters. On an even more positive note, when you look at Watson’s career splits against left-handers you see more numbers that drew Friedman to him. In Watson’s career, he’s holding lefties to a .222/.276/.292 slash rate and has 21.9 strikeout rate with a dominant .36 HR/9.

Another reason why Andrew Friedman looked to acquire Watson was how successful he’s been pitching against those dominant left-handers mentioned earlier. Watson has held Harper (0-6), Murphy (2-5), Blackmon (0-3), Lamb (1-4) and Rizzo (4-20) on check. That’s a collective 5-27, which translates to a .185 batting average.

Tony Watson might not have been the sexiest name Friedman and Zaidi could have acquired to help Jansen and Baez at the back end of the bullpen. But Friedman and Zaidi did their homework and got an arm that could assist them in the postseason for only one their top 25 prospects.

Grade: B+: Simply because they missed out on Zach Britton and Brad Hand who just was named July relief pitcher of the month. But Watson provides some experience in high-pressure situations and has faced the best lefties in the NL.