2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Player Reviews: Dennis Santana

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

Dennis Santana competed for the final spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen for their Opening Day roster, but come the middle of the year was no longer with the franchise.

At the time of selecting Scott Alexander over Santana, manager Dave Roberts said the southpaw was a better fit for how the Dodgers’ bullpen was constructed. “Very, very difficult decision,” Roberts said.

“We thought Dennis had a great spring and really impressed with his progress, command and all that stuff. There’s really no viable reason or answer. It’s just more of a numbers game. We just felt right now, Scott has earned that roster spot.”

Santana didn’t have to wait long to join the Dodgers as he was recalled April 4 due to Tony Gonsolin being placed on the 10-day injured list. He didn’t appear in a game until 10 days later and wound up on the COVID-IL on April 24.

Santana returned two days later and was with the Dodgers for another month. He was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on May 27 and designated for assignment June 12.

The Dodgers traded Santana to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Minor League pitcher Kelvin Bautista less than a week later. The Rangers immediately optioned Santana to Triple-A Round Rock.

The right-hander appeared in 16 games for L.A. this year, posting a 6.00 ERA and 1.93 WHIP. Santana also made three starts for Oklahoma City after being optioned at the end of May, pitching to a 10.13 ERA and 2.44 WHIP.

Of some of Santana’s struggles this past season, Roberts said, “I just think with Dennis it’s strike throwing, it’s not about the stuff. There’s a two-seamer, there’s a four-seamer, trying to figure out the slower slider or harder slider, changeup to right and left.

“There’s a lot of value as far as potential roles and stuff, but just the consistent strike throwing is something that we need to continue to see.”

Santana spent time with the Dodgers over parts of four seasons, going a combined 2-2 with a 6.42 ERA and 36 strikeouts. He was signed by the team as an international free agent in March 2013.

Santana’s 2021 highlight

Santana’s career with the Dodgers ended on a positive note as he strung together three consecutive scoreless appearances from May 16-26. He also finished the regular season by allowing just two earned runs over 17 relief appearances for the Rangers.

2022 outlook

Albeit with the Rangers, Santana will find himself in a similar position to Spring Training this year — with a chance to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

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