What Happened In 2014: Actually threw pitches! In major league games! And in the playoffs, improbably and unhappily.
I’m pretty sure that after a while, I simply forgot that Scott Elbert existed. And why not? Though he’d been with the organization since 2004, Elbert had only thrown 92.1 major league innings in parts of five big league seasons between 2008-12, and though he’d established himself in 2011-12 as a useful lefty reliever, he’d also basically disappeared for more than two years.
Prior to this season, Elbert’s last appearance with the Dodgers came back on Aug. 26, 2012. Then he had elbow surgery in September. Then another in January, 2013. Then another, this one being a Tommy John procedure in June of 2013. When he finally made it back to a professional mound this past June, his rehab didn’t end with a return to the bigs. It ended with a DFA, as the team wasn’t prepared to re-add him to the roster.
Elbert remained with the organization and actually managed to get himself included in September recalls, making a successful return to the major leagues after more than two years away. Happy ending, right? Rehab complete, major leagues achieved. Let’s move on.
So! This is interesting. As my first prediction suggested, they took 12 pitchers. However, that Elbert made it over Paco Rodriguez is indeed a surprise, and makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with Rodriguez that we don’t know about. Elbert was fine in his brief return to the bigs, but never dominating. It’s a fun story after his last two years, of course. It’s just more than a little surprising.
Elbert struck out the only two Cards he faced in Game 1, but Game 3, well, that did not go quite so well, as Dustin remembers:
Scott Elbert – you remember him, right? – came into the game in the seventh inning of a 1-1 game to face Yadier Molina, Jon Jay and Kolten Wong. Naturally, Molina led off with a double, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Jay. Runner at third, one out for Wong. He had a solid season, but I don’t think anyone expected what happened next. That’s right, a 2-run home run that was the difference in the ball game.
There was a ton of bitching on Twitter about this – and rightfully so – but this wasn’t on Don Mattingly. He shied away from J.P. Howell because of the home run he gave up to Matt Carpenter in Game 2. With Paco Rodriguez not 100 percent healthy and no other viable options, Elbert – who logged all of 4 1/3 innings this season – was the guy. He looked pretty good in Game 1, but he grooved a fastball to Wong that put the Dodgers’ season in jeopardy.
I hate even recalling that, and not just because I like to pretend the NLDS never happened. It’s because after so much time away, I don’t want us to remember Elbert as the guy who gave up a huge homer in the playoffs. (He was hardly the only one.) He should have never been in that spot, and the fact that he was — a guy who had barely pitched in two years — really shows just how barren the bullpen options were at that point.
Elbert still isn’t even 30 until August. He still hasn’t thrown 100 big league innings. I don’t know what his future holds, but I hope the last we saw of him isn’t the last memory anyone has of him as a big leaguer.
2015 status: Elbert elected to become a free agent in November and is currently unsigned.