Let’s Just Accept That Chris Withrow Is Getting Optioned Now And Be Done With It


On Wednesday, Hyun-jin Ryu is going to be activated from the disabled list in order to make a start in New York against the Mets. This is, of course, outstanding news, and puts the rotation at full strength for the first time all season. A move will need to be made to get him onto the active roster, and unfortunately, it won’t be the move Dodgers fans almost certainly want to see: Paul Maholm riding the long train to unemploymentville. It’s not Ned Colletti’s style to give up team control over players when he doesn’t have to; besides, it’s already been reported that Maholm will move to the bullpen as a second lefty and/or long man.

Barring a currently unknown injury or something terrible happening in Tuesday’s series opener, no one in the current rotation — Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett — or Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell in the bullpen is going anywhere, obviously. Brandon League has pitched well enough over the last month to be included in that group, too. (!!) Chris Perez and Jamey Wright haven’t exactly been good, but it’s difficult to see Colletti cutting bait with either at the moment.

That leaves Brian Wilson and Chris Withrow, and it’s not exactly hard to see how this is going to go down. Wilson has been awful lately, and I think we all think that there’s a physical concern there, so I wouldn’t say that a disabled list stint is out of the question, but we’ve heard repeated statements that he’s healthy. Maybe he lands on the DL anyway, but any fans calling for him to be otherwise cut or DFA are wildly misinformed, and that leaves only Withrow, who can still be optioned as the team chooses.

It’s weird to say, because for a decent chunk of the season Withrow was the club’s most reliable reliever, and he misses bats like few others, but the control problems that plagued him in the minors have returned. Withrow has walked at least one in eight of his last 10 appearances, and his 20.7 percent walk rate is the highest in baseball (minimum 20 innings) — and it’s really not close at all. Albuquerque isn’t necessarily the best place to fix something like that, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to get him a breather for a bit. And remember, this is a team that has been making roster moves nearly every day, especially with the pitching staff, so it’s not like shipping Withrow down would be a long-term thing. (…He says, remembering Paco Rodriguez fondly.)

It also remains possible that the little-used Chone Figgins could go down, leaving the team with 13 pitchers and a short bench. They did just that earlier this year, but it’s really not an ideal situation; it leaves Justin Turner as the only backup at second, third, and short, which isn’t great when Dee Gordon can’t hit lefties, Hanley Ramirez isn’t a wonderful shortstop, and Juan Uribe is 35 and just coming off a hamstring injury. (Yes, Scott Van Slyke has options too. No, I’m not entertaining that unfathomably silly scenario.) I wouldn’t put it at a zero percent chance of happening, but it doesn’t seem particularly likely — nor should it be.

So unless the team can convince Wilson that yes, his elbow really does hurt, it’s going to be Withrow. You’re all going to hate it, and everyone will forget that it’s all but certainly a short-term thing that doesn’t matter as much as the reaction might be, both because Withrow hasn’t been wonderful lately, and because the difference between Ryu and Maholm in the rotation is far larger than the difference between Maholm and Withrow in the bullpen. It’s not necessarily the move I’d make, it’s just the move that’s likely to happen. We’ll survive it.

About Mike Petriello

Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.