Dodgers: Is Garrett Cleavinger about to steal a roster spot from Scott Alexander?
Were you surprised when the Los Angeles Dodgers tendered a contract to Scott Alexander this offseason after leaving him off their postseason rosters?
Some fans were, for sure, but the fact he only cost $1 million and addressed the need for a lefty in the bullpen really made it a no-brainer.
Easy insurance. Not a high cost.
No commitment beyond 2021.
But then the Dodgers went out and made a trade with the Phillies and Rays, acquiring Garrett Cleavinger in the three-team deal on Dec. 29. That’s another lefty reliever with a funky delivery and more velocity than Alexander.
He was also among the four prospects the Phillies protected ahead of the Rule 5 Draft in 2019. And he’s now dominating this spring for the Dodgers.
He’s thrown four innings, across which he’s allowed one run (unearned) on two hits and two walks while striking out seven.
Alexander, on the other hand, has surrendered two earned runs on four hits and a walk while striking out just two over 2.2 innings of work.
So we’re here to ask: is Cleavinger playing himself into an Opening Day roster spot? It’s not that crazy to ponder, especially when Alexander could be let go for just about nothing. He could even be traded with so many teams looking for lefty relievers.
Once upon a time, Cleavinger had sky-high expectations before he imploded in Double-A and the Orioles traded him to the Phillies. He wasn’t necessarily good with Philly, either, and he owns a 4.08 ERA and an unsightly 1.39 WHIP in 140 career games, having yet to reach Triple-A. He did, however, make his MLB debut with the Phils during the shortened 2020 campaign, because, well, they needed all the help they could get with their league-worst bullpen.
Another important thing to remember is that Joe Kelly may not be ready for the start of the season, so there could be another roster spot available, even if Cleavinger doesn’t take one from Alexander. Right now, Victor Gonzalez and Julio Urias are the only lefties in the bullpen capable of handling high-leverage innings.
Cleavinger is on the 40-man, but will have to continue to do some serious work to get a spot on the 26-man for Opening Day. If he keeps sitting down batters and looks to be a potential weapon for manager Dave Roberts to use against lefties, then you have to think that’d be an easy decision for the Dodgers, who love to deploy as many arms as possible out of the bullpen on any given night.