As the July 31 trade deadline passed, when general manager Ned Colletti was asked to describe his farm system, he did not hesitate in identifying the Dodgers' greatest organizational strength. "We have a lot of pitching, and I think our Double A staff is well above average," Colletti said. Nate Eovaldi is a big part of that Double A staff, and he will make his debut Saturday night at Chase Field in Phoenix as the Dodgers face the Diamondbacks.
The 21-year old Eovaldi isn't alone on the path from Chattanooga to Los Angeles this season. Eovaldi will be the fourth Lookout to make a contribution to the 2011 Dodgers. The reason the Dodgers have a spot for Eovaldi is because fellow rookie Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery and is out for this season and likely 2012 as well.
Before he got hurt, De La Rosa was having a fine season, at 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 60 2/3 innings, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning. Rubby was the gem of the group, but the Dodgers also got contributions from a pair of relief pitchers.
Thanks to several injuries in the bullpen, Javy Guerra has emerged from relative obscurity to become the Dodger closer. Guerra has converted all 10 save opportunities and has a 1.69 ERA in 26 2/3 innings so far this season. Josh Lindblom was the closer in Chattanooga, and has contributed to the pen in a pair of stints with the Dodgers. In 13 1/3 innings over 11 games, Lindblom has a 2.03 ERA.
Dodgers Double A pitching coach Chuck Crim has been a big part of the development of Dodger pitchers, even working with Kenley Jansen when he was briefly demoted earlier this season.
"Chuck has given all of us the mind-set of getting Major League hitters out, not Double-A hitters," Lindblom told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "I know for me that's made the transition up here easier. I think that's why the team ERA down there leads the league. Give credit to Chuck for developing everybody there. As a pitcher, you know he's in your corner and he lives and dies with every pitch."
At 51-60, this has been a lost season for the Dodgers. But the emergence of pitching coming from Double A has been a silver lining. Perhaps Eovaldi can provide a glimmer of hope as well, beginning Saturday night.
For more news and information on Eovaldi and the Dodgers, be sure to read True Blue LA.