Bolsinger finds positives in season debut

Dodgers starter leans on slider in loss to Angels

May 19th, 2016

ANAHEIM -- Mike Bolsinger made his season debut Wednesday night, limited to 80 pitches, but it was another pitch limit that ultimately derailed his start and led to a 8-1 loss to the Angels at Angel Stadium.

After a second inning in which Rafael Ortega reached third -- not the last time an Angel would do so -- Bolsinger abandoned his fastball and used almost only his slider.

"I think the only thing that was working for me was my slider," Bolsinger said after allowing three runs in 4 1/3 innings. "After the second inning, I think I threw four fastballs the rest of the game. Every pitch was a slider. I was working off one pitch."

The adjustment didn't create smooth sailing from there, though, as an Angels hitter reached third base in all five innings that Bolsinger pitched. It definitely could have been worse for the right-hander, as threats in the second and fourth were nullified by three popouts and a strikeout of the Angels' Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, Carlos Perez and Brendan Ryan.

Bolsinger had trouble with Mike Trout all night long, allowing a home run, a single, then a walk in the fifth that prompted manager Dave Roberts to pull the starter for Louis Coleman.

"I think everyone in the ballpark could have guessed I wasn't giving him anything to hit," Bolsinger said of the walk.

The hook came when Bolsinger was at 69 pitches, below the 80-pitch limit he had as he returned from an oblique strain suffered in Spring Training. In two rehab starts at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Bolsinger threw 46 and 63 pitches.

"I thought Mike had did what we had hoped," Roberts said. "There were 60 pitches that he threw in that last rehab start ... and where he was at with the third time through, I thought he gave us a chance to win."

Bolsinger said after the game he felt pain-free and was happy to limit the damage, despite not having his best stuff.

"I've never been in that situation before," Bolsinger said. "Not only is it a difference between the Minor Leagues and the big leagues, but to pitch off an injury like that, it's a huge difference."

After Bolsinger's performance comes a decision for the Dodgers' braintrust.

Bolsinger was used as a sixth starter to give the five-man rotation a day of rest in the middle of 20 straight games. With every starter expected to work on normal rest after this next turn in the rotation, the choices are essentially to option Bolsinger, move him to the bullpen, or keep him in the rotation at the expense of another starter. The decision is expected sometime soon.

"Right now, I think that we're going to get together tonight and discuss some options," Roberts said. "Figure out what we need to do and look at the status of the bullpen, what gives us the best chance tomorrow as well as the near future."