With less than three weeks remaining until the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline of Aug. 1, the Dodgers clogged up their 40-man roster some more during the All-Star break as they sent cash considerations (this was more fun when Ralston Cash was in the organization) to Milwaukee for right-handed pitcher Tyson Miller on Wednesday, and also signed Jake Marisnick to a major-league contract on Thursday.
Both players were designated for assignment by their former teams, with the Dodgers’ third pitcher named Miller let go by the Brewers after 9 1/3 innings in the majors this season, while the former Houston Astro Marisnick was dumped by the Tigers after 75 plate appearances with Detroit after the Chicago White Sox had dumped him after 2 PAs back in May.
Before we get to more on Marisnick, let’s get to Miller because there’s no reason to already dislike him. Drafted in the fourth round by the Chicago Cubs out of California Baptist back in 2016, Miller made his major league debut for the Cubs during the shortened 2020 season. Rising through the minors quickly, Miller played for two levels in 2016, moved to Single-A in 2017, High-A in 2018, and then worked through Double-A and Triple-A in 2019. Chicago only gave him 5 innings across two games in 2020, lasting 2 innings in a start against the Cardinals for his debut and throwing 3 more innings against the Cardinals a few weeks later.
Designated for assignment by the Cubs midway through 2021 as he lasted just 5 1/3 innings for Iowa, the Rangers claimed him and he spent the rest of 2021 in Triple-A Round Rock with a 3.05 ERA across 56 innings after Texas also designated him for assignment and optioned him. Throwing 89 2/3 innings, primarily in relief for Round Rock during the 2022 season, Miller was called up in September and allowed 14 runs in 10 2/3 innings for a 10.97 ERA.
Mixed in with two bad outings where he allowed six runs in 2/3 of an inning to the Astros and seven runs in 4 innings to the Angels, Miller did hold the Mariners scoreless for 3 2/3 innings. Waived again in November, Miller joined Milwaukee and was recalled four different times and appeared in seven games for the Brewers in 2023. The 5.79 ERA Miller has in 2023 is primarily due to allowing four runs in 2 innings to the Giants back on May 25, as he’s allowed 2 earned runs in his other 7 1/3 innings in 2023 while striking out four to three walks. A few weeks away from being 28, Miller was added to the 40-man roster with Daniel Hudson unfortunately back on the 60-day injured list with a right knee MCL sprain.
Miller’s thrown five pitches in all three seasons he has appeared in the majors, with 2022 and 2023 looking pretty similar. A 90.7 mph four-seamer, 81-82 mph slider, 91-92 mph sinker, 86-86 mph change and a 79-80 mpg curve have been used while with the Rangers and Brewers. To right-handed batters, it’s 50% fastball with an even mix of sliders and sinkers. For lefties, it’s been 62% fastballs in 2023 with 18.8% curves and 10.1 changes, though that’s a total of about 70 pitches this season.
And now Marisnick.
The Dodgers will be his seventh team since leaving the Astros following the 2019 season. Spending 2020 with the Mets following a trade, Marisnick moved to the Cubs to begin 2021 and was traded at the deadline to the Padres. After signing with the Rangers for 2022, he lasted just about a week into the regular season and signed with the Pirates a few days later. Cut in August, he joined the Braves for the final month of the 2022 season and signed with the White Sox in January. Chicago moved on at the end of May when the Tigers added him for cash considerations before he was DFA’d about six weeks later.
For anyone playing immaculate grid, he might be a valuable. For the Dodgers, it seems as though the belief is a 32-year-old right-handed outfielder is necessary as Mookie Betts spends more and more time at second base or shortstop and they seem opposed to letting Jonny Deluca get more than a plate appearance per day. Really, since Deluca came up on June 7, he’s tallied 36 PAs, with 22 of those coming in the first two weeks. Of those 36 PAs, 27 have come against left-handed pitching which Deluca has slashed .250/.333/.417/.750 with a 108 wRC+. Marisnick’s career line against lefties is .235/.291/.416/.707 and a 91 wRC+ in 865 PAs, which isn’t significantly different than his .223/.274/.365/.639 and 74 wRC+ against righties.
And now for the part that sure seems to stand out. In parts of 11 seasons, Marisnick has held a wRC+ above 100 just twice. Once was a 159 in just 34 PAs for the Mets in 2020 as he dealt with hamstring injuries and the other being 117 in 2017 for the Astros. Take a closer look into Marisnick’s work during the 2017 season and you see:
Marisnick has never hit better than .234 in a full season since 2017 or had an OBP over .300 since 2017 or had a wRC+ over 85 for a full season since 2017 or walked more than his 7.7% from 2017 or had an ISO higher than .188 in a full season since 2017…
I could keep going, but I’ve made my point. To his credit, I guess, he did say this as soon as he was no longer on the Astros.
“There was a line and it was definitely crossed and I want to say sorry to the fans, Major League Baseball, my peers and anybody else who was affected by this,” Marisnick said. “When I come in here I don’t want to be a distraction to the Mets clubhouse.”
Though he did also add…
“You look at that team and how talented that team is and it’s hard to say that team would have won the World Series with or without that,” Marisnick said. “But I can see why people would view it that way.”
Ideally, Marisnick is not the ultimate answer in the outfield against left-handed pitching unless he magically turns into his 2017 self without the assistance. With Miguel Vargas sent down, the only good answer the Dodgers currently have is to play Mookie Betts at second fairly often, while James Outman, Jason Heyward and David Peralta form an all left-handed hitting outfield against right-handed pitching.
If Betts and Chris Taylor (back to a 129 wRC+ against lefties in his 69 PAs this season) are occupying an outfield spot and second base against lefties, Marisnick will get a shot in the outfield with James Outman (103 wRC+ vs. lefties and 101 vs. righties). The Dodgers have still held Peralta (14 PAs) and Heyward (13 PAs) away from lefties as much as possible, with Outman carrying a lot of the load. Outman is sitting at 83 games played of the Dodgers’ 89.
With an open spot on the 26-man roster as there has not been a corresponding move for Vargas, the Dodgers could keep Deluca up and send down Yonny Hernandez instead with Taylor likely to be activated soon.
For the time being, that would allow the Dodgers to play Betts at second with an outfield of Taylor, Marisnick and Outman with the option of Deluca as well. Honestly, that sounds a bit better to me than Hernandez remaining up as an infield option with Deluca sent to Triple-A OKC as it limits the team in its options against left-handed pitching if you’d rather not see Hernandez get at-bats. Taylor has only played 2 innings at second in 2023, but was there for 170 innings in 2022 and 294 in 2021 if the Dodgers want to keep Betts in the outfield a bit more often and send Hernandez back down.
More than anything, this all convinced me the Dodgers are going to need to add someone who can hit left-handed pitching, and probably preferably an outfielder at this point, at the deadline. More on that over the next few weeks.
It’ll be a few days before we know how it works out, as Justin Verlander is scheduled to start for the Mets on Friday against Julio Urias, followed by a the right-handed Kodai Senga on Saturday and Max Scherzer on Sunday.