Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers made an under-the-radar move during the 2021 season when they claimed Phil Bickford off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. The right-hander initially struggled upon joining the organization but impressed after getting promoted to the Majors.
Bickford went on to post a solid 2.50 ERA with 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 56 games. After a successful showing, he was expected to be a key member of the Dodgers bullpen in 2022.
Unfortunately for the Ventura, California native, his second year with L.A. was delayed due to arm soreness. Bickford fell behind in Spring Training and was among the pitchers ruled out for the Opening Day roster.
The 27-year-old made three appearances with Triple-A Oklahoma City before being recalled just over a week into the regular season. He immediately found success by not allowing a run over his first five appearances to begin the year.
Bickford, however, battled with inconsistency for most of the 2022 season. After a breakout rookie campaign, he finished 2-1 with a 4.72 ERA, 4.27 FIP and 1.09 WHIP over a career-high 60 appearances.
Bickford was placed on the 15-day injured due to right shoulder fatigue during the final week of the regular season and didn’t return in time for the National League Division Series.
During time with Oklahoma City last year, Bickford had a 9.00 ERA in just six appearances.
Phil Bickford 2022 highlight
Bickford was on the wrong side of MLB history as he gave up Albert Pujols’ 700th career home run on Sept. 23 in what wound up being his final appearance of the 2022 season.
“At first I was upset that I gave up a home run,” Bickford said at the time. “And then when the crowd reacted and seeing all the smiles, it was a very special moment for MLB. And Albert Pujols is also one of the most amazing people I have ever met.
“After I got over the being upset again at the home run, towards the very end of it, it was obviously a very special moment.”
While the accomplishment will always be focused on Pujols, Bickford is now one of just four pitchers in MLB history to give up a 700th home run to a batter, joining Tommy Bridges, Ken Brett and Jake Peavy.
“I’m not really thinking about it that way,” Bickford said. “I’m more just happy for Albert doing his accomplishment. I mean it speaks for itself, I really can’t put it into words.”
Bickford is among the Dodgers under team control for the 2023 season with less than three years of service time. He will be eligible for salary arbitration in 2025 and isn’t scheduled to become a free agent until the end of the 2027 season.
Bickford may be in line to spend at least some of this year with OKC once again.
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