Do Not Forget About Adam Liberatore

Adam Liberatore

Adam Liberatore is a 29-year old left handed reliever the Dodgers acquired on November 20, 2014 from the Tampa Bay Rays alongside Joel Peralta for flame throwing youngster Jose Dominguez and minor leaguer Greg Harris. The trade wasn’t considered any kind of game changer. Dominguez was a hard throwing rookie with control issues. Harris was a non-prospect at the time.

Liberatore was originally drafted by the Rays in the 21st round of the 2010 amateur draft but never made it to the majors in Tampa Bay. He didn’t make his MLB debut until he joined the Dodgers in 2015. Liberatore’s first season with the Dodgers he was moderately effective. He tossed 29.2 innings pitched and appeared in 39 games. That year he posted a 4.25 ERA/3.40 FIP and struck out 8.8/9. The southpaw whiffed 29 and walked 9 while allowing 7.9 hits per nine innings and just 3 home runs.

Those are decent numbers but certainly not great. That season lefties hit just .242 (15 for 62) against him with a .671 OPS. However something clicked for Liberatore in 2016. He ended up becoming one of the Dodger’s most reliable relievers throughout the 2016 season.

Last year Liberatore pitched 42.2 innings and appeared in 58 games while posting a 3.38 ERA/2.89 FIP. He increased his strikeout rate to 9.9 per nine innings (47K/17BB) and allowed less hits. His hits per nine rate lowered from 7.9 to 7.2 and he did a great job of keeping the ball in the park allowing just two long balls.

He was especially tough on left handers. Liberatore limited left handed bats to just a .171 (14 for 82) BAA with a .494 OPS against. He was excellent at home, posting a 1.93 ERA at Dodger Stadium. He was good and he was so good that during the summer he broke a Dodger record for consecutive scoreless outings for a reliever. On July 9 he broke John Candelaria’s record when he recorded his 24th consecutive scoreless appearance. Liberatore did not allow an earned run from May 18-July 22 which spanned 29 consecutive scoreless outings. He finally allowed 3 earned runs on July 24 against the Cardinals.

We knew something was wrong when he gave up those runs considering he had been so lights out for most of the season. Indeed there was something wrong. Liberatore suffered a late season injury that limited his playing time during the final two months of the season. He was still pretty effective down the stretch despite pitching hurt. Liberatore ended up having offseason elbow debridement surgery.

What was the reason for Liberatore’s sudden success in 2016? I’m not sure. It could be contributed to a few things. Liberatore is a three-pitch reliever relying primarily on a four-seamer that he throws from 91-93 MPH, a slider, and a change. If we look at the spin rate and pitch type charts we do see some movement from 2015 compared to 2016.

Liberatore Chart 2015
Liberatore Chart 2015
Liberatore Chart 2016
Liberatore Chart 2016

If we compare his pitch spin rates we do see some differences from 2015 to 2016. His slider had less spin in 2016, but the rest of his pitches had more horizontal movement. His changeup had more spin/movement and he relied heavily on that pitch for a lot of swings and misses in 2016.

He also threw his four-seamer slightly harder which may have helped somewhat. Perhaps he took advantage of better pitch sequencing? Or maybe solid pitch framing from catcher Yasmani Grandal helped as well?

Either way there is sure to be a lot of competition for spots in the Dodger bullpen this spring. If he is healthy, Adam Liberatore could still be a reliable late inning option for the Dodgers in 2017. I think he should make the club and push Luis Avilan and newly acquired Vidal Nuno off the roster. Don’t forget about him.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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31 thoughts on “Do Not Forget About Adam Liberatore

  1. Scott

    I agree with you about Libertore.

    He had to go down to AAA the first year he was with the team, because he had options.

    And that is the only reason that Hatcher continually stays, on the major league team.

    I think they should keep Libertore up, just from what he did last year, if he is healthy, and is ok.

    Not only did he pitch well last year, but he gave his all for the team, and I think he was a little over used, last year.

    He probably got hurt last year, because he was over used, a bit.

    The thing I like about Libertore, is that he has complete concentration, when he is pitching.

    And because of that, he doesn’t miss his spot that often, like Hatcher and Baez tend to do.

      1. Jonah

        I feel bad for guys that have that happen, especially so young.

        But at least bald and short hair is in now, and a lot of guys still look good, with no hair, like Michael.

        1. Just kidding, of course. I’ve always associated baldness with age, but of course we know some men go bald at a very young age. And then there’s me, lots of brown hair and almost no grey even at 76. Must be the Indian blood. Sometimes, I’m envious, they don’t have to comb their hair or waste time in a barber shop.

          1. Jonah

            Is that what it is?

            Knock on wood, but I don’t have grey hair either.

            And I have Native American, in me.

            I also have light hair, too.

            I don’t think Ronald Reagan had any Native American, in him, did he?

            Remember his wife insisted that Reagan’s hair, wasn’t colored?

          2. You mean the Male Pattern Baldness gene is transmitted through the mother’s genes. I don’t remember any baldness on either side of my family. But I am plenty ugly even without that…

    1. To be fair, Liberatore got off to a good start in 2015 and then he started getting shelled and that’s why he was sent down.

      1. Hawkeye

        When Libertore first came up from AAA he was doing fine, but Mattingly started to use him quite a bit, against righties, and that is when he started having problems.

  2. Scott

    You should look at that site that Rye posted, in the tread before this one.

    Guetierrez has a serious condition, that isn’t curable.

    It is a Fangraphs article that Rye posted the info about.

      1. Rye

        Thanks for posting it.

        This is why he isn’t that good defensively anymore.

        But that is a serious disease, and I don’t know how he is still able, to play.

    1. Watford

      Good article, I bet you wish you knew more about baseball, when you were younger, so you could have played it at a young age, like kids do, in the US.

      1. MJ

        You are so right. Would have loved the opportunity. I think it was the fact that I had played and enjoyed Cricket so much that drew me to Baseball.
        From my first visit to Dodger Stadium I was hooked. It’s my favourite place in the world.
        I think what I enjoy so much is the game within the game, the tactics & the intensity of 162 games in 7 months. No other sport plays so many matches in that timeframe.

        Wish I was American full stop actually.

  3. I agree with you Watford and the article. My only question, if he is the silent type, and does not play much, how effective can you be as a leader? You are a leader by showing the young guys how to play the game or by telling them how to play the game. Utley certainly will not be a starter. Utley will have to become more verbal, and I am not sure that is his mode of operation. He certainly can show them how to prepare for a game. However, he cannot show them how to play the game if he is sitting on the bench. In my days of coaching, I never saw a sub be a leader. Just a thought.

    1. Utley is a stud, a borderline Hall of Famer IMO.

      He brings intensity to every play on the diamond. That kind of stuff rubs off or wins games directly.

      1. Hopefully you meant he WAS a stud. Last year he ranked 18th out of the 20 second baseman’s in OPS. You know the stat that all of the geeks give so much credence to. Utley WAS a stud when he was hitting .282 for the Phillies. His .242 is below par now.

        The last 2 postseasons, you know where the men separate themselves from the boys, he has hit a whopping .129 (4 for 31) with his OPS being a paltry .357. Utley’s best days are way behind him. So maybe cheerleaders is what FAZ is good at signing these days.

    1. Badger

      I heard this last week on the Dodger show, and I wondered how much Orel could help, so I am glad he can bring something, that these relievers especially, need to learn.

  4. Would someone please tell me what value (or how much value) these players have?

    Darin Ruf, Brett Eibner, Franklin Gutierrez, Chase Utley, Kike Hernandez, Andre Either, Trayce Thompson, Scott Van Slyke, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Hyun-Jin-Ryu, Rob Segedin, Chris Taylor.

    IMO, there is very little value in that bunch. And to keep hearing how the Dodgers have all of this depth…..and that sooner or later they will be able to trade their depth for prospects, please. It’s that continued stance of if FAZ trades them away, they are bums….( a la Peraza, DeLeon, Montas, Cotton, Holmes, Gordon, Kendrick, etc.) but IF FAZ acquires them, they are ‘valued’ pieces (a la Utley, Gutierrez, Hernandez, McCarthy, Kazmir, Thompson, Ruf, Eibner, etc.).

    How much Dodger Blue Kool-Aid did the FAZ make and distribute this off season? I knew they were changing the formula but please control your consumption.

      1. yes. Thanks MJ, it’s actually plain and self-evident. Their value is depth. Last season was a season that should kill most teams, the Dodgers had more DL spells than any team in history. And they still made it to the NLCS!

        Think about that.

        That’s because of depth.

        Also, I don’t think Cotton, Montas or Holmes are bums. I really hope they turn out well, or great. Why not hope for trades that help both teams. The Dodgers farm system ain’t lacking for talent.

        Gordon’s not a bum, although I think Michael Norris has an issue with his PED usage.

        The point of depth, IMO, is having players you have confidence in with regard to playing in the major leagues. This is best found with players who have played in the major league. That’s the self-evident part.

        Utley, Gutierrez (sp), Kazmir, McCarthy, Beachy, Anderson, etc.

        Does that make sense?

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