2016 Dodgers in Review: RP Josh Fields

IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP xFIP WAR
MLB (HOU/LA) 35 26.6 7.0 1.03 4.63 3.26 4.15 0.1

What Happened in 2016: The Dodgers acquired Fields at the Aug. 1 trade deadline, after which he showed glimpses of being a capable relief option.

The Dodgers made three trades at the 2016 trade deadline, the last of which was acquiring Josh Fields from the Astros for Yordan Alvarez, the Dodgers’ final July 2 signing back on June 15.

Fields is actually somewhat similar to Kenley Jansen. Well, at least he’s similar in the same way that turkey bacon is similar to real bacon. He and Jansen are both right-handed relief pitchers, and both throw a lot of cut-fastballs. Fields actually throws his cutter harder than Jansen does (95.4 MPH vs. 94.1 MPH), and it’s easy to see why the front office was interested in him. Chad wrote about Fields after he was acquired.

“With Fields, it’s not hard to see what the Dodgers are thinking when you look at the ERA and FIP gap (even the DRA gap), see the .457 BABIP and 51.7% strand rate (both unsustainably bad), and find that he’s striking out 28.2% of batters while walking only 4.2%. Fields also has a live arm and sits 93-96 with his fastball, and works in a slider, curve, and change. If nothing else, he certainly fits the mold of other fly ball relievers in this pen who also miss bats.

While there’s likely reasons other than bad luck for Josh Fields’ poor performance against his peripherals thus far, it would seem like there’s potential for a quality middle relief arm there with an adjustment, something that may have already taken place in AAA.”

Fields improved his swinging strike rate while with the Dodgers (13.1 percent in Houston vs. 13.4 percent in LA) and decreased his contact rate (74.8 percent vs. 72.8 percent). He also established a career-best swinging strike rate (13.3 percent) overall, which bodes well for him going forward. One interesting note: Fields induced eight infield fly balls in 28 fly-ball outs (28.6 percent). That’s seems pretty unsustainable, but he has induced 15.5 percent infield fly balls in his short career (178 1/3 innings) thus far. That’s the kind of pitcher Fields is: He’ll miss bats and get fly balls, and there aren’t many better home parks for a pitcher with his profile to pitch in than Dodger Stadium. His walk rate did spike with the Dodgers (4.2 percent with Houston, 9.2 percent with LA), but if he can fully harness his stuff, he could be more than just a fungible middle reliever.

2017 Status: Arbitration-eligible for a projected $1.2 million. Fields should be tendered a deal and could begin the season in the Dodgers’ bullpen or at Triple-A Oklahoma City, as he has one more option year remaining.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He does contracts and depth charts for FanGraphs and is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a one-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, California, and has yet to be shot.