The Dodgers do not have room for much competition this spring but left field and the bullpen are two areas where the competition is getting hot.
The Dodgers spring schedule is still in its early stages as just over a week of games have been completed. Despite being just over a week in, the competition is taking no time to heat up with the biggest battles coming for left field and the bullpen. Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo are fighting for the starting role in left while a plethora of relievers are in the mix for a few bullpen spots.
In the battle for left field, Joc got on the board with a home run early but lately, it’s been Alex Verdugo who has been heating up. Verdugo went 2-3 with two doubles and 2 RBI’s in his latest solid game for the Dodgers. Alex is currently hitting .333 in eighteen at-bats with four runs batted in. He also showed great baserunning awareness on Sunday advancing to third on a ball in the dirt and then scoring on a ground out by Austin Barnes.
For Alex Verdugo the question has never been talent, it has been if he will ever get a shot in Los Angeles with the talented roster that the Dodgers possess. He has a stellar arm, covers plenty of ground in the outfield, and is tough to strikeout which is a trait not many of the Dodger hitters have. Joc Pederson can mash righties but Verdugo is showing the ability to hit left-handed pitching as he has in the minor leagues.
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Another Dodger who has gotten off to an impressive start is Yimi Garcia. It appears that Yimi has finally put his health issues behind him and has pitched three perfect innings to start his spring with six strikeouts and no walks. When healthy he has a mid 90’s fastball with a lot of late tailing life on it. Garcia broke out in 2015 but has struggled with injuries since including Tommy John surgery.
Yimi is out of options and fellow Dodgers’ reliever Josh Fields can refuse a minor league demotion so they may be battling for one roster spot. Fields has gotten off to a slow start and has had injury-plagued seasons of his own but he too has been pretty good when he is not injured. The bullpen has locked down spots in Ross Stripling, Joe Kelly, and Kenley Jansen. The other spots will likely go to Pedro Baez, Dylan Floro, and Scott Alexander.
That leaves Yimi in a battle with Tony Cingrani and Josh Fields if the Dodgers open the season with only seven relievers. The next three weeks will feel long as we wait for the games to count but for those players fighting for a roster spot, they will try to make the most of every game they play in. Alex Verdugo and Yimi Garcia will try to fight their way onto the initial twenty-five man roster for opening day.