by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Dodgers are set to recall right-handed pitcher Dennis Santana, who has been impressive splitting his time between Double and Triple-A. Just look at the numbers:
All told he’s posted an impressive 15.8% SwStr% and 51.3% groundball rate. There was never a question about those two aspects for the converted shortstop, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to watch. Can he hit the ground running? Will he be able to make an impact? First let’s look at the questions before we reach that decision:
This was always the biggest potential issue, with a minor league career 4.2 BB/9. Here is how MLB.com described it prior to the season:
Santana sits at 93-95 mph and tops out at 98 with a fastball that features so much sink that it creates a lot of strikeouts and groundouts, but the life on his heater also makes it difficult for him to command. Santana has a low arm slot and a crossfire delivery that also hamper his ability to throw strikes, and his walk rate jumped from 2.3 per nine innings in high Class A to 6.3 in Double-A. Los Angeles has moved him from the third-base side of the rubber to the first-base side in an attempt to get him more centered toward the plate.
Thus far it appears that he’s fixed that issue, with a 2.90 BB/9 overall and walking more than 2 batters just twice in his 10 starts. If he can continue on this path at the highest level, there is no questioning the potential upside.
Santana has never worked more than 118.1 IP in a season and only twice this season has he gone more than 5.0 IP (and never more than 6.0 innings). Are the Dodgers just trying to save some bullets to make sure he’s available late in the year? That’s possible, as he did work 7+ innings a few times last season. We’ve also seen them take a similar strategy with Walker Buehler, and he’s shown that he can be highly productive despite any limitations. Eventually he’ll be shutdown (think around 150 innings), but at this point that may not come into play.
There has been talk that Santana could be more of a closer of the future type, and he may work out of the bullpen this time around. Of course the team currently has a rotation of:
- Clayton Kershaw (coming off the DL)
- Alex Wood
- Walker Buehler
- Ross Stripling
Brock Stewart recently made a start and could be summoned again, or the Dodgers could conceivably give Santana a look now when the fifth spot in the rotation comes around. It may not be a long-term look, as eventually Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda will come off the DL. If he represents the best option today, and he does, they should use the bullets now while they need him since he may not be available later in the year? Time will tell, but with his skills there’s far too much upside to ignore.
Fantasy Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team League – Too shallow (barring a streaming option)
- 12 Team League – Worth the gamble
- 14+ Team League – Must Add
- NL-Only League – Must Add
- Keeper/Dynasty – Must Add
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference
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