Right-handed reliever David Aardsma announced on Twitter yesterday that he would be signing a minor-league deal with the Dodgers and will be receiving an invitation to spring training in the major league camp.
— David Aardsma (@TheDA53) February 15, 2015
In itself, that’s not particularly interesting news, as a ton of these types of deals are handed out all the time, but his off-season program has me intrigued.
Aardsma is seemingly just another veteran long-shot looking to latch on with a team, as he’s thrown just 40.2 MLB innings since 2010 due to injury and ineffectiveness. Aardsma spent all of 2014 with the Cardinals in AAA, and while he posted a 1.29 ERA, his 3.73 FIP wasn’t all that impressive.
The problem is that while Aardsma used to be a reliever who sat in the 94-95 mph range, after a hip and elbow surgery, that velocity plummeted to 90-92 mph and took his effectiveness with it. Last year, despite his seemingly successful stint in AAA, Aardsma wasn’t satisfied with velocity that he says varied between 88-92 mph. Thus, as he mentioned in his tweet, he spent the off-season working with Top Velocity in an attempt to rebuild what he’s lost over the years.
And at around the 16-minute mark in this video, Aardsma says he thinks he’ll be back to sitting in the 94 mph range.
Will it work? That’s yet to be seen, but if Aardsma really can get back to the 94-95 mph range he was at before, he could be a solid addition for depth.
Even if his velocity is back, though, my main concern would still be that the reason he struggled at times was his command, and he’s only truly had two seasons where he was an effective reliever. That said, when he has normal velocity and has kept his control in check (like during his stint with the Mariners), he has proven to be an effective middle relief option, and we now know all too well that the Dodgers could use as much usable depth in the pen as possible.