When the Dodgers play the Astros, it gets your mind thinking.
When news broke on Tuesday morning that starting pitcher Alex Wood had been placed on the injured list after making just one start this season, most of the focus, and rightfully so, was on how the Los Angeles Dodgers would fill out their quickly thinning rotation.
The Dodgers now have two injured starters in Wood and Clayton Kershaw. Of course, David Price opted out before the season began.
But a corresponding roster move on Tuesday is interesting in its own right. While Dodger fans would have bet on seeing someone like Tony Gonsolin getting the call to replace Wood, the team announced that reliever Josh Sborz was placed on the active roster.
Could Sborz become the sacrificial lamb to bean Astros hitters?
It makes you think: maybe the Dodgers want an extra pitcher to exact revenge on the Astros for their illegal sign-stealing in 2017. If Sborz were to hit a Houston batter (pick your favorite) and later get suspended, oh well. The Dodgers can live without the right-handed reliever.
While perhaps a bit far-fetched, as the title of this story suggests, it’s not entirely impossible to believe the Dodgers could be setting themselves up for a showdown with the team that stole their world championship a few years back.
However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is giving no indication that the team is looking for revenge this week, at least not publicly. He told reporters before the game on Tuesday that he doesn’t see his pitchers throwing at the Astros because he is focused on doing the things that will help the team win games right now.
He did admit that walking into the ballpark in Houston brought back some sharp memories. Perhaps emotion will take over during the course of the series. Roberts said he believes the outcome of the 2017 World Series would have been different had the Astros been playing straight-up.
“I still believe the result of ’17 would have been different,” Roberts told reporters before the game on Tuesday. “But it’s hard to stay in that place because I don’t think it is helpful.”
Sborz throws a 95 MPH fastball, in case that is somehow pertinent. He has hit 9 batters in the minor leagues since 2016, but none last year.
The 26-year-old right-hander was originally selected in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft after winning Most Outstanding Player at the 2015 College World Series for the University of Virginia.
After trying to develop him as a starter, the organization moved him into a relief role in 2018, which looked like a good idea through initial results in Tulsa (AA) where he struck out 13.2 batters per nine innings. However, moving up to Oklahoma City (AAA), he has struggled with his command and his ERA has hovered around 4.5 runs.
By calling up Sborz, the Dodgers now have two players from the University of Virginia on their active roster. Utility player Chris Taylor is also a Virginia graduate. The team’s connection to UVA doesn’t stop on the field. Their manager of baseball strategy and one of the leading analytics voices in the front office, Michael Voltmer, studied in Charlottesville.
Before Sborz and Taylor, the Dodgers have only had one former Cavalier on their roster: Ricky Horton (1988-89).