Travis Schlichting is vying for a spot in the Dodger bullpen (Photo: Harry How | Getty Images Sport)
Stop me if you heard this before, but the Dodgers have a reliever in camp who began his career as a position player. Like Kenley Jansen, the former catcher, and Ron Mahay, the former outfielder, the Dodgers also have Travis Schlichting, who was originally drafted as a third baseman by the Devil Rays in 2003.
Schlichting made the switch to pitcher late in the 2006 season after hitting .250/.321/.334 in a little over three years, never advancing past Single A. Within two seasons, Schlichting made the majors. He made his major league debut on June 7, 2009, allowing a home run to Ryan Howard, the first batter he ever faced. In parts of two seasons with the Dodgers, Schlichting has faced 112 more batters since Howard, and hasn't allowed a home run since.
Schlichting has had some injury problems the last few years. He ended the 2009 season early with back spasms in August, then lost 30 pounds due to Gilbert's Syndrome that offseason. Last season, Schlichting did not pitch after August 21 due to a right shoulder strain.
When he is on, Schlichting will induce grounders, but he isn't extreme one way or another. His 1.36 ground ball / fly ball ratio last season tied for 89th among all 252 MLB relievers with 20 or more innings. Schlichting is mostly a fastball/slider pitcher, and before the 2009 season Baseball America said Schlichting's fastball had "heavy armside, bat-breaking sink from a three-quarters arm slot." Schlichting was the Dodgers' 14th-rated prospect by Baseball America prior to 2009.
Schlichting pitched his first full season in 2007 for the Kansas City T-Bones in the independent Northern League. He struck out 47 in 51 innings, but also walked 29 batters, had 11 wild pitches, and a 5.29 ERA.
Schlichting also holds the distinction of being the first player I ever interviewed, in June 2009.
Schlichting has 143 days of MLB service time. He has one more option remaining.
|2011 Projections - Age 26 Season|
So far this spring, Schlichting has faced 13 batters in two outings. He has allowed four singles, two walks, five runs (three earned), and thrown a wild pitch, with one strikeout.
With the absence of Ronald Belisario and the injury to Vicente Padilla, the chances of Schlichting making the team out of spring training have increased. Even if he doesn't make the team though, he will surely see time in the major league bullpen at some point this season. I'll guess a 4.35 ERA and 1.273 WHIP in 31 innings this season for Schlichting.
What is your prediction? Be sure to guess Schlichting's ERA, number of innings pitched for the Dodgers, plus anything else you would like to predict.