The Dodgers acquired Scott Alexander last offseason in a very under the radar move. The Dodgers hoped the move would pay big dividends for the Dodger bullpen and lately the trade is starting to look better.
When the Dodgers acquired Scott Alexander in January, they were hoping that Alexander would help fill the void in the Dodger bullpen that was created by Brandon Morrow’s departure. Early on in the season, the trade appeared to be a bust as Alexander struggled out of the gate and posted a 6.97 ERA in April, to go with a .300 batting average allowed. Scott Alexander was even optioned to the Oklahoma City Dodgers but since his returning, he is definitely trending up.
Part of the reason for Alexander’s early season struggles was poor location. Alexander was leaving his sinker up in the zone and hitters were teeing off on it. The other reason for Alexander’s struggles was his velocity. Early on in the season, Alexander was averaging around 91-92 miles per hour on his sinker.
Lately, his sinker has been around 94-96 miles per hour and the velocity has helped Alexander get more swings and misses. In April and May, it certainly felt like hitters were going to put the ball in play every time that Alexander was on the mound. Towards the end of June and now early on in July, it no longer feels like contact is guaranteed against Scott Alexander.
In fact, last night Alexander came into the game with the bases loaded against Albert Pujols and he blew perfectly placed sinkers past Pujols that were around 95-96 miles per hour. With his sinker movement at that velocity, in a perfect location low in the zone, that is nearly unhittable. If contact is made it’s going to be weak contact where no damage is done.
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Scott Alexander was often called Zach Britton lite last season, and he is once again starting to resemble a Britton like pitcher especially with his velocity back to the mid to upper 90’s. Here is a comparison of some of Zach Britton’s prime seasons to Scott Alexander’s 2018 season so far:
Zach Britton (2014): 75.3 Ground ball%, 20.6% hard hit%
Zach Britton (2015): 79.1 Ground ball%, 19.5 hard hit%
Zach Britton (2016): 80.0 Ground ball%, 14.8 hard hit%
Scott Alexander (2018): 74.3 Ground ball%, 20.2 hard hit%
While Scott Alexander is not quite at the elite levels that Zach Britton has reached in ground ball and hard hit percentages, he is still pretty close to Britton who has had some dominant seasons. For a reliever making 550K this season, under control for four more seasons, acquired for depth type prospects, this is beginning to look like another shrewd move for Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi.