The Dodgers are vowing to define a role for right hander Carlos Frias this spring. The 26-year old Dominican right hander has been used as a swing-man over the last two seasons for the Dodgers making appearances as a starter and reliever. Last season Frias pitched most of the year out of the rotation filling in after injuries to Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy. After injuries and inconsistencies he’s fallen to the bottom of the depth chart. The Dodgers are not going to give up on him though as he can still become a useful piece.
The young hurler has a strong fastball but has struggled with his command. Last season Frias appeared in 17 games, with 13 of those as a starter. He posted a 5-5 record with a 4.06 ERA/4.32 FIP in 77.2 innings pitched. He struck out 43 and walked 26 while allowing 10.2 hits per nine and 3.0 BB/9 to go along with a 5.0 strikeout per nine rate. In 2014 he posted a higher strikeout rate. That year he whiffed 29 and walked 7 to post an 8.1 K/9 with a 4-1 strikeout to walk ratio in 32.1 innings of work.
With the news that Hyun-jin Ryu has fallen behind in his recovery from shoulder surgery and probably won’t be ready to return until May, Frias could be called upon if anyone else were to fall victim to injury. Frias primarily throws a fastball and cutter, but also can mix in occasional sliders and changeups. Perhaps the Dodgers and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt can work on developing one of his secondary offerings.
Frias had a good start to the 2015 season winning his first three decisions. Then on May 24th he got bombed against San Diego allowing 10 earned runs on 12 hits across four frames. If you remember the year before he set the LA Dodger record by allowing eight earned runs on 10 hits in just two thirds of an inning at Colorado. It seems like Frias has one meltdown start per season. After that disastrous start against San Diego he bounced back nicely by beating the Cardinals by allowing just one run (none earned) on five hits over seven innings in a 5-1 Dodgers win.
Unfortunately poor luck and injuries derailed the rest of his season from that point on. Frias won just one decision in the month of June before going on the disabled list in July with back tightness. He didn’t return until September, making only three appearances as a long reliever. He pitched only six innings after June 30th.
Frias seems to pitch better as a reliever than he does as a starter. If you look at his career numbers, he gives up about a run less as a reliever.
Frias has started he would prefer to start rather than relieve, stating that it’s easier to prepare for.
“When you start, it’s easier to prepare because you have a routine and know what you have to do each day,”
Of course Frias will start the season in Oklahoma City. However with Ryu’s timetable getting pushed back, the uselessness of Brandon McCarthy, and the possibility of other injuries, Frias can be a good break glass in case of emergency pitcher.