2013 Dodgers player profile: J.P. Howell, the southpaw

Eric Stephen | True Blue LA

Two years removed from his shoulder surgery, Howell put up a stellar second half in 2012 for Tampa Bay. Can the free agent acquisition do the same in Los Angeles in 2013?

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly over the weekend was talking about his bullpen and was asked about open slots in his bullpen. He specifically mentioned Kenley Jansen, who is still pre-salary arbitration, as one slot, but wouldn't commit to others. Though there are four other relievers under contract for 2013 whom could be safely penciled on to the roster, including J.P. Howell.

The left-handed reliever spent the previous seven years with the Rays, and came to the Dodgers on a one-year contract. The deal happened in part because of left-hander Scott Elbert needing a second offseason arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow, an injury expected to sideline Elbert until at least May.

"We knew (Elbert) was still having some difficulty," general manager Ned Colletti said regarding his acquisition of Howell.

Howell missed all of 2010 after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, a procedure that kept him out of major league action until the end of May 2011. But after struggling in 2011 and in the first half of 2012, Howell rebounded in the second half of 2012. He allowed four runs in his final 32 outings last year for a 1.15 ERA, with 26 strikeouts and 11 unintentional walks in 31⅓ innings.

Depending on whether or not fellow left-hander Paco Rodriguez makes the opening day roster, Howell's role could shift from a lefty specialist to one asked to work an inning at a time. Mattingly said he likes Howell against both lefties and righties.

"He's a guy that gets righties out. His stuff is not the typical 94 lefty. It's soft and it changes speed," said Mattingly. "He has weapons for the right-handers."

Howell is his career has held left-handers to a .241/.323/.351 line, including .200/.306/.306 in 2012. But right-handers have hit just .248/.348/.403 against him over his career.

Trivia

Howell's 252 appearances with Tampa Bay were the most by a left-handed pitcher in Rays history, and is third among all Rays pitchers, trailing only Esteban Yan (266 games) and Dan Wheeler (258).

In 13 career postseason games, Howell has a 3.00 ERA with 17 strikeouts and three unintentional walks in 12 innings.

Contract Status

Howell signed a one-year, $2.85 contract on Jan. 7, and can earn up to $1.75 million in bonuses based on games pitched, games finished, and innings pitched.

Stats

Year Age IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP
2010 (Rays)
27 Did not play - shoulder surgery
2011 (Rays)
28 30⅔ 5.28 7.63 6.16 5.41
2012 (Rays) 29 50⅓ 3.93 7.51 3.04 4.78
2013 Projections - Age 30 Season
Source IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP
Bill James 45 4.20 8.60 4.00 4.45
ZiPS 44⅔ 4.03 8.05 4.03 4.24
Pecota 44 3.68 9.41 3.32 -----

2013 Outlook

These three projection systems seem to agree on Howell's innings pitched, so I will guess a 3.65 ERA in 44⅓ innings, with 41 strikeouts.

Be sure to guess how you think Howell will perform for the Dodgers in 2013. Include ERA and whatever else you wish to guess.

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