Dodgers’ poor depth management cost them a game last night

Chris Hatcher Photo: Stacie Wheeler

We’ve sung the praises of depth on this blog since the Andrew Friedman/Farhan Zaidi regime has taken over. Depth is a great thing, when used correctly.

But when it isn’t used to the team’s benefit, what’s the point of having it?

The peg here is what happened last night. With Brandon McCarthy on the mound and the Dodgers having used Ross Stripling for 2 1/3 innings (49 pitches) on Sunday and Alex Wood unavailable since he’s stepping back into the rotation to take Rich Hill‘s next turn, the Dodgers were working with a short bullpen on Monday night.

 Pedro Baez threw 1 1/3 innings (17 pitches) on Sunday. Coming off an injury, the Dodgers have yet to use him in back-to-back games. Sergio Romo had thrown 17 pitches over the last two games (14 on Sunday, three on Saturday), while Luis Avilan had thrown three consecutive games (17 pitches), so his limited availability was understandable. I’m sure Romo could have been used a little more liberally, but he hasn’t been known as the most durable (or matchup-friendly) reliever in his career.

This is how you get to Chris Hatcher being asked to throw multiple innings in a tie game. His first inning of work last night was … fine. He got two quick outs before allowing singles to A.J. Pollock and David Peralta. A 101 MPH line drive off the bat of Paul Goldschmidt found Enrique Hernandez‘s glove in left field, so it wasn’t exactly a dominant inning. With the limited options, Dave Roberts opted to throw Hatcher out for a second inning of work. He promptly allowed a leadoff home run to Jake Lamb in the eighth inning, which gave Arizona the lead for good.

Hatcher had been successful this season before last night. He had a 1.29 ERA, 1.04 FIP and a 29.6 K% pitching in mostly low-leverage situations. It can be argued whether having a guy like Hatcher, who does much better in low-leverage spots is worthy of carrying, but he’s out of options and the front office believes enough in his arm that he’ll either turn it around (like the second half of 2015) and/or he’d be scooped up on the waiver wire by another team (highly probable).

So, instead of recalling another reliever — knowing the bullpen was going to be shorthanded — the Dodgers opted to recall Rob Segedin to start at first base. That’s fine; I’ve got nothing against Segedin. It just didn’t seem like the best use of depth. There were other options to play first base last night. Scott Van Slyke comes to mind, but he played the outfield because — despite saying in Spring Training Joc Pederson would get more chances against left-handers — Joc is again, being platooned. I’ve droned on about that for long enough.

There’s no guarantee Josh Fields (last pitched Thursday) or Adam Liberatore (last pitched Friday before throwing last night for OKC) wouldn’t have given up the lead in the eighth inning, but I trust both of them more than sending Hatcher out for a second inning of work, especially with a left-handed hitter in Lamb leading off.

Depth is great, but it needs to be used correctly to really be effective.

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.