Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Ryan Yarbrough made his Los Angeles Dodgers debut on Saturday night, pitching well before the bullpen had a meltdown during a seven-run eighth inning that propelled the San Diego Padres to a win.
Prior to that point, Dodgers pitching was highly effective, utilizing Michael Grove as an opener to face the first five batters before turning to Yarbrough. Grove struck out the first four hitters he faced before giving up a single and being replaced.
Yarbrough, who was acquired on August 1 and activated three days later, struck out the first two batters faced. Although a starter by trade, he has experience out of the bullpen and was often utilized as a bulk pitcher by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The veteran southpaw pitched 4.1 innings, only giving up one run on three hits while striking out three and walking no one. The lone run came via a solo homer from Manny Machado as Yarbrough largely kept the Padres’ talented lineup in check, which left him pleased with his outing, via SportsNet LA:
“It was pretty good. First time doing the opener in a little bit, at least probably in a couple months. But I’ve done it enough where I’m pretty comfortable doing it. I have a good understanding of what I need to prepare, so it was good. I think it was just a matter of kind of getting on the same page and getting to know Will (Smith), and obviously talking with (Mark) Prior and C-Mac (Connor McGuiness) about what I’m trying to do and how they see things.
“I thought we did a really good job of communicating and getting on the same page. Besides falling behind in the count to (Manny) Machado and giving him a good pitch in a hitter’s count, I kind of kept them at bay and kept us in the ballgame. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Yarbrough has been more effective as a starter this season, which may be due to his comfort level of knowing when exactly he’s going to pitch, so having a time frame for receiving Grove was beneficial:
“It always makes it easier because you kind of give yourself all the time you need to get ready. That’s kind of been the generalized way of an opener and having a guy come in after, but there’s been times where maybe the guy is super efficient and they let him go a little bit longer. But for the most part it’s pretty generalized like, ‘Hey, look to come in at this point.’”
When the Dodgers acquired Yarbrough, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he wasn’t sure what role the left-hander would fill, but stressed the importance of communication in how they would use him.
“He loves to compete and is all-in on any role,” Friedman said. “Just asks for communication, which is something we stressed is really important to us, so he’s excited to get here after he wraps up a few things in Kansas City. I think the key is just communicating our way through it.”
Ryan Yarbrough could start games
Although Yarbrough pitched as a bulk guy his first time out, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it’s a possibility he could end up starting games. The versatility is something the club valued when they traded for Yarbrough as it gives the team multiple options on how to utilize their pitching staff.
Yarbrough went 4-5 with 4.24 ERA, 4.29 FIP and 1.19 WHIP over 14 games (seven starts) with the Royals this season. He moved into their rotation at the end of April and was 4-3 with a 3.08 ERA, 3.67 FIP and 1.13 WHIP in his seven starts.
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