Adam Kolarek Prepared To Fill Any Role Out Of Dodgers Bullpen

Rather than part with any of the organization’s top prospects for a big-name relief pitcher at the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers addressed their bullpen by acquiring Adam Kolarek from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Minor League outfielder Niko Hulsizer, who had been with High-A Rancho Cucamonga.

His arrival gives the Dodgers a much-needed southpaw in their bullpen. They had become deficient in that area due to Tony Cingrani undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery and never throwing a pitch in 2019, and Scott Alexander and Caleb Ferguson enduring respective struggles.

Cingrani was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the July 31 deadline, and Alexander remains on the injured list due to a nerve issue in his thumb. He initially was sidelined in June by left forearm inflammation.

Meanwhile, Ferguson was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday in a corresponding move to the Dodgers adding Kolarek to their 25-man active roster. He deemed himself available immediately and twice warmed up but never appeared in the series opener against the San Diego Padres.

Kolarek figures to be deployed out of the Dodgers bullpen as a lefty specialist, but he’s prepared for any role, including pitching on consecutive days. “I’m obviously very flexible,” he said.

“I’ve been used for one hitter or multiple, so I’m used to doing both and I’m going to be prepared to do both. I feel very comfortable throwing back-to-back days, I’ve kind of always had a little rubber arm in that sense. Nothing’s changed there, so I’ll be available every day.”

Kolarek went 4-3 with one save, a 3.95 ERA, 4.53 FIP and 1.22 WHIP for a Rays team that remained in the thick of the race for the American League Wild Card Game. He’s excited to join a Dodgers club poised to win a seventh consecutive National League West title, but doesn’t believe there needs to be a change in mindset.

“It’s more of a fight there to get a playoff spot,” Kolarek acknowledged. “As far as switching gears, the regular season is not over. Things can always happen, so that’s why you put your head down and play every game like it’s your last.

“I feel like if you always have that approach, you never turn it on and off. When you turn it on and off, I think that’s where you get in trouble.”