Inbox: Is Price a viable option out of 'pen?

Beat reporter Juan Toribio answers questions from fans

March 26th, 2021

One week from today, the Dodgers begin their quest to become the first team to win consecutive World Series titles since the 1998-2000 Yankees won three in a row. The Dodgers have all the pieces in place to achieve that goal, but nothing is guaranteed in baseball.

Either way, (real) baseball is back next week and we’re scheduled for a full 162-game season. That being said, let’s answer some questions in this Dodgers inbox. For future inboxes, email [email protected] or follow on Twitter @juanctoribio.

Is using [David] Price as a reliever the best way to employ him? [Tony] Gonsolin has relief experience and [Dustin] May is still fine-tuning his secondary stuff. --- @bluegoon82 via Twitter

We’ll know more as the season goes on, but the idea of having in the bullpen isn’t a bad one for the Dodgers. The fact that he seems more than willing to step up in that role certainly helps, too. Price has some experience out of the bullpen in his career, but having him as a relief option could help him stay healthy after missing the entire 2020 season, and there could be an increase in velocity.

Manager Dave Roberts said Price was throwing around 91-93 mph during his most recent appearance in a “B” game. For context, while with the Red Sox in the 2018 World Series against the Dodgers, Price made one appearance out of the bullpen. He threw 13 pitches on one day's rest and topped out at 95.8 mph with the fastball. It’s unlikely that Price gets back to that kind of speed in 2021, but it’s not out of the question that he sees an uptick in velocity if the Dodgers start the season using him as a reliever.

Do you see a scenario where Bobby Miller pitches in the Majors this season? He’s looked pretty polished and if he dominates in the Minors, it seems feasible to me that maybe he could relieve in September (similar to how Walker Buehler did in 2017) -- @sam_scherer99 via Twitter

There’s always a chance, especially in a season where depth will be even more crucial. But I don’t see Bobby Miller making his debut this season. Miller, the Dodgers' No. 5 prospect, was their first-round pick in 2020 and has been impressive this spring, but it’s important to remember that he still hasn’t pitched in a Minor League game in his career.

Miller was a standout at Louisville and the fact that he’s coming from college accelerates his development just a little bit, but the Dodgers won’t rush anything with a pitcher they believe has frontline starter stuff. He still has some work -- and learning -- to do in the Minors. 

With the starting pitcher depth the Dodgers have, will Doc consider going to a six-man rotation? Seems like a good way to manage workload for pitchers coming off a short season. -- @Placidin via Twitter

This is something the Dodgers could explore at some point in the season, if needed, but it won’t be how they start off the season. Roberts said that the plan is for the Dodgers to start with a five-man rotation with two of Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Price starting the year in the bullpen.

There’s definitely some benefit in having a six-man rotation in order to keep pitchers fresh throughout the season, but a six-man rotation also disrupts the routine that pitchers like Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw have established over the years. Bauer has talked about his desire to pitch every four days.

I still think the Dodgers need a more consistent right-handed bat off the bench. Do you? If so, do you think they’d consider a trade later in the season to meet that need? And, who is even available they could trade for? -- Jeannette E., Los Angeles

The Dodgers would definitely benefit from having another right-handed bat coming off the bench. That’s one of the decisions they still have to sort through over the next week. Sheldon Neuse could be an option for the Dodgers, though that means Zach McKinstry would be in danger of not making the Opening Day roster. Expect the last spot on the bench to be a revolving door all season, depending on the matchups.

Los Angeles could, indeed, look to try and trade for a right-handed bat at the end of Spring Training. With teams making tough roster decisions, the Dodgers could pounce on a player who has caught their attention. Or they could just roll with what they have, since adding a player would require them clearing a 40-man roster spot. Time will tell.