Dodgers: Will there be a Cinderella Story for a Pitcher on the Bubble?

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 03: J.T. Chargois
GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 03: J.T. Chargois /

With the start of the season only two weeks away, the Dodgers edged even closer to setting their opening day roster when they optioned several players to the minor leagues this week.

Among the notable demotions were bullpen candidates Edward Paredes and Brock Stewart, as well as their number one prospect, starting pitcher Walker Buehler. Each of these pitchers should find their way back to the big club sometime during the season, and manager Dave Roberts has suggested Buehler could be expected to pitch 140-150 significant innings this year.

With 33 players still on the active roster, (one of them the injured Tom Koehler who has yet to be placed on the disabled list, but is out indefinitely and will not be one of the final 25) the last two weeks of Cactus League play will provide clarity as to which players will fill out the bullpen and the bench.

The 32 healthy Dodgers are made up of 16 pitchers and 16 hitters. Roberts has already made it known that he plans on carrying a 13 player pitching staff, so there will be three pitchers and four hitters that won’t be on the field on March 29th at Chavez Ravine.

As for the hitters, unless the long rumored trade of Matt Kemp comes to fruition, it looks to be coming down to one final spot between five different hitters:  Kyle Farmer, Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, Trayce Thompson, and Alex Verdugo.  Look for the final battle to be between Toles and Pederson as the left-handed complement to Kemp in left field.

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The battle in the bullpen for the last four spots is more wide open.  On the bubble are Pedro Baez, Dylan Baker, J. T. Chargois, Josh Fields, Wilmer Font, Yimi Garcia, and Adam Liberatore.

It would be easy to suggest that Baez, Fields, Garcia, and Liberatore claim the spots as they have the most experience, and indeed Fields looks like he may have the inside track on one of the positions, although he has only pitched one inning so far in the spring as he deals with a minor injury.  Baez’s spot could be in doubt after struggling mightily at the end of last year, and Liberatore and Garcia are coming off of devastating injuries.  Dylan Baker has never pitched above the AA level in the minors, and then there are the interesting cases of Wilmer Font and J.T. Chargois.

Font is a strikeout machine.  He struck out 178 batters in just 134 and a third innings with Oklahoma City last year, including a franchise record 15 in one game.  Although his experience is as a starter, he would not be the first pitcher to make a successful transition to the bullpen, and in limited action, his pitches could be electrifying.

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Chargois wasn’t even a Dodger until a few weeks ago when he was selected off of waivers. In four games thus far this spring, he has only allowed one hit and one walk while striking out four in four scoreless innings.  This 2012 second round draft pick would probably never have been available had he not also battled several injuries during his pro career, but if he can make this team, if he can be the Brandon Morrow  of 2018, perhaps he can play the role of Cinderella and help burst the bubble of the Dodgers’ 30 year championship drought.