The Los Angeles Dodgers were linked to several marquee relief pitchers at the trade deadline this season but once the dust settled their lone acquisition for the bullpen was to acquire Adam Kolarek from the Tampa Bay Rays.
He went 4-3 with a 3.95 ERA, 4.54 FIP and 1.22 WHIP in 54 games for the Rays prior to being traded. But Kolarek filled a need for the Dodgers as they were without an effective situational left-hander.
Scott Alexander remained on the 10-day injured list, Tony Cingrani had undergone season-ending shoulder surgery (and was traded shortly after Kolarek was acquired), Caleb Ferguson was inconsistent, and Zac Rosscup struggled before getting dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Although the Dodgers’ need was apparent, Kolarek was open to any role. “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,” he said upon joining the team.
“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 on to shine with the Dodgers, going 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 26 games. He carried that success into the postseason, exclusively being deployed against standout Washington Nationals rookie Juan Soto. Kolarek won each of their three matchups, twice striking out Soto.
Kolarek was flawless in a stretch of six appearances from Sept. 12-24. He logged just two innings during that span, collecting three strikeouts and retiring all six batters faced. It was final preparation for a lefty specialist role that he would then be dominant in come October.
With MLB likely implementing a rule that requires all pitchers to face at least three batters or reach the end of a half-inning, Kolarek’s value and importance is in some danger. Of his 26 appearances with the Dodgers, 20 saw him only face one or two batters. However, within those, 12 ended an inning.
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