2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Player Reviews: Nate Jones

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

The Los Angeles Dodgers bolstered their organizational pitching depth this past May by signing veteran reliever Nate Jones to a Minor League contract.

The right-hander was designated for assignment and subsequently released by the Atlanta Braves upon clearing waivers after going 0-2 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.74 WHIP in 12 games.

Jones reported to Triple-A Oklahoma City and allowed four runs on five hits in three appearances before earning a call-up to the Dodgers. He made his team debut on May 21 against the San Francisco Giants and retired all five batters faced.

Shortly after joining the Dodgers, Jones revealed his top priority was further improving his four-seam fastball. “For all my career I was most comfortable down in the zone. So when you start throwing a four-seam, I think all vertical and ride on it, so it plays a lot better at the top of the zone,” he said at the time.

“Coming into Spring Training with the Braves, that was something we worked on and tried to get as comfortable as I could before the season started. It’s just keep evolving as a pitcher, keep learning, watching hitters and how they react to that.

“Because it’s not my best strength, per se, but it’s something I’m learning about and learning how the hitters swing at it. What it means where they foul it off and all that good stuff, and what I need to do on the next pitch.”

After tossing scoreless outings in five of his first six appearances, Jones’ previous struggles would resurface as he allowed six runs over his final two games with the Dodgers.

The 35-year-old was designated for assignment on June 16 to clear a spot for Steven Souza Jr. on both the on the 40-man and active rosters. After subsequently clearing waivers, Jones elected to become a free agent.

Jones was initially sent outright to Triple-A Oklahoma City, but exercised his right to decline the assignment since he has accrued a minimum of five years of Major League service time.

In eight appearances with the Dodgers, Jones posted an 8.31 ERA, 8.25 FIP and 1.15 WHIP with seven strikeouts against two walks across 8.2 innings pitched.

Jones’ 2021 highlight

As previously noted, Jones put up zeroes in five of his first games with the Dodgers from May 21-June 6. Over that stretch he allowed two runs (three earned) on three hits and recorded four strikeouts against two walks in seven innings of work.

2022 outlook

Jones, who turns 36 in January, remains a free agent and likely will have to settle for a Minor League contract if he returns for his 11th MLB season in 2022.

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