The Recent History of Dodgers Spring Pitching

Today I learned that when you search creative commons for "Monasterios", you get pictures of monasteries. (via)
When you search Creative Commons for “Monasterios”, this is the only picture that isn’t of a monastery. Also, it’s good to see that he’s pitching again. (via)

Putting together the spring training batting statistics run-down was fun, so I’ve prepared a companion post for pitching statistics. The goal of the batting history post was to illustrate that you shouldn’t trust spring statistics, but that point was already made pretty clear. At this point, it’s more interesting to take a look back and remember the fun story-lines of previous springs and the consequences of any roster decisions that were based on them. The leaderboards below are sorted by spring ERA, using a minimum of 10 innings pitched.


Spring Training Regular Season
Kevin Gregg 11.0 0.82 4.09 0.00 62.0 3.48 8.13 4.65
Paco Rodriguez 11.2 3.09 10.03 2.31 54.1 2.32 10.44 3.15
Hyun-Jin Ryu 27.2 3.29 8.89 2.63 192.0 3.00 7.22 2.30

Last season, the leader in spring training ERA didn’t even make the Dodgers’ roster. Kevin Gregg only allowed one run in March, but he didn’t miss very many bats. After the Dodgers released him, he spent the season in Chicago picking up saves while being mediocre. The Dodgers let Gregg go because the man behind him, Paco Rodriguez, was so impressive. The selection of Rodriguez over Gregg was a bit surprising, as Paco had options, but it was the correct choice to make. Rodriguez had a great regular season, even if you count the way it ended. Hyun-Jin Ryu did fairly well for himself during spring training, despite the initial complaints about his fitness. He couldn’t maintain the strikeout rate he showed against lesser competition, but he lowered his walk rate and ERA during the regular season.

It’s worth noting that both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke had poor spring showings last year, at least by ERA. Kershaw’s ERA was 4.18, though his peripherals were similar to his regular season levels. After being sidelined for most of the spring with elbow problems, Greinke posted a 5.54 ERA in 13 innings. Both pitchers went on to have excellent regular seasons. That’s a bit comforting after Kershaw’s start yesterday.


Spring Training Regular Season
 Clayton Kershaw 22.0 2.45 6.54 3.27 227.2 2.53 9.05 2.49
 Aaron Harang 24.0 2.63 5.25 1.88 179.2 3.61 6.56 4.26
 Chris Capuano 19.2 2.75 10.07 2.29 198.1 4.26 6.90 2.04

Unlike last year, Kershaw had a great spring in 2012, though it came without his normal strikeout numbers. Behind him were both of Ned Colletti’s new toys, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano. While both pitchers were decent in 2012, they didn’t live up to their spring training numbers. Harang’s walk rate more than doubled, and Capuano’s strikeout rate fell dramatically.


Spring Training Regular Season
Mike MacDougal 10.0 0.00 4.50 6.30 57.0 2.05 6.47 4.58
Rubby De La Rosa 19.2 2.29 7.32 1.37 60.2 3.71 8.90 4.60
Clayton Kershaw 25.1 2.49 7.11 2.13 233.1 2.28 9.57 2.08

I don’t think anything could make the point of “don’t trust spring statistics” better than Mike MacDougal with a 0.00 ERA and a K/BB ratio below 1. The Dodgers kept him after spring training, and he was actually pretty good by run prevention during the regular season. However, ERA for relievers is notoriously unreliable and his regular season FIP was nearly 4. Rubby De La Rosa had an exciting run during spring training. He couldn’t maintain his spring walk rate, but he was still fun to watch before he was sidelined with Tommy John surgery. Kershaw was third in ERA during spring training, and we know how his 2011 season turned out.


Spring Training Regular Season
Ramon Ortiz 18.2 0.96 10.61 1.93 30.0 6.30 6.30 4.80
Carlos Monasterios 16.0 1.69 5.63 3.94 88.1 4.38 5.30 2.95
Hiroki Kuroda 18.1 1.96 6.87 2.46 196.1 3.39 7.29 2.20

Ramon Ortiz was at the top of the 2010 spring ERA leaderboard. His regular season ERA was 6.5 times higher than it was during spring training. After Ortiz was the rule 5 draft pick Carlos Monasterios. Monasterios pitched his way onto the roster during spring training, but was mediocre during the regular season, costing the team nearly a full win. In his second-to-last season with the Dodgers, Hiroki Kuroda had a decent spring followed by a very standard Hiroki Kuroda season.


Spring Training Regular Season
Josh Lindblom 13.0 1.38 6.92 2.08
Hiroki Kuroda 20.2 2.61 6.53 1.74 117.1 3.76 6.67 1.84
Guillermo Mota 12.0 3.75 12.00 3.75 65.1 3.44 5.37 3.31

The top of the 2009 list is pretty fun, too. Before this impressive spring campaign, Josh Lindblom had only pitched 5 innings in AA. The front office kept him in AA to start the 2009 season, which was the right choice. Kuroda had another good spring in 2009, though he missed a couple of months in the beginning of the season due to a strained oblique. Guillermo Mota made a surprise appearance at the end of the list, though his 3.75 ERA was actually higher than what he managed during the regular season. It’s hard to say his inclusion on the roster was based on his spring ERA, and he was merely a replacement-level pitcher that season.

While there weren’t any Juan Castro equivalents on these lists, there were still some surprise spring standouts during the recent past. Since Dodgers pitchers as a whole will be throwing fewer innings during spring this season, it’s even more likely that a surprising name will be on top of the 2014 leaderboard.

About Daniel Brim

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Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn't live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.