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2012 Dodgers Player Profile: John Grabow, A Second Southpaw Option In The Bullpen

John Grabow hopes the Dodgers decide to break camp with two left-handers in their bullpen.
John Grabow hopes the Dodgers decide to break camp with two left-handers in their bullpen.

John Grabow comes to Dodgers camp in spring training as one of many relievers vying for that final bullpen spot. If Don Mattingly and Ned Colletti decide on having a second left-hander in the bullpen in addition to Scott Elbert, Grabow is one of six candidates along with fellow non-roster invitees Alberto Castillo, Matt Chico, Wil Ledezma, and Scott Rice; and Michael Antonini, who is on the 40-man roster but more likely to be starting, in the minors.

Grabow, a San Gabriel High School graduate, has not been used much as a lefty specialist in his career, as he has averaged nearly an inning per appearance for the last eight seasons.

"That's pretty much been my M.O. in my whole career, to be able to get guys out from both sides of the plate, left and right. I never looked at myself as a lefty specialist. I have a good changeup to get righties out," Grabow said earlier this week, though he is not averse to the specialist role. "Whatever they think will be best for the team, it's all about just going out there and getting outs."

In his career, left-handed batters have hit .262/.329/.385 off Grabow, compared to .263/.351/.421 for right-handed batters, but the last two years have had a more pronounced split, with lefties producing a .745 OPS off Grabow and righties tattooing him for a .903 OPS.

Grabow had two turns on the disabled list with a left knee injury in 2010 and missed well over half the season. He returned to full health in 2011 but posted the worst strikeout rate of his career at 5.49 per nine innings, the only time in his career he has been under seven strikeouts per nine innings.

On the first day of camp, manager Don Mattingly said he didn't necessarily need more than one left-hander in his bullpen, instead preferring to break camp with the best arms, period. Grabow will likely have to have an extraordinary spring to make the club.

"Some things are in your control and some things aren't," Grabow said. "Being put on the team is under their control so all I can do is go out their and perform, get guys out and stay healthy."


With 501 appearances over the last eight seasons, Grabow ranks third in the majors among southpaws during that span, trailing only Trever Miller (510 games pitched) and Brian Fuentes (504).

Grabow as traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Chicago Cubs on July 30, 2009 in a five-player deal that sent Jose Ascanio, and others, from Chicago to Pittsburgh. Ascanio was also a non-roster invitee to Dodgers camp but failed his physical and left Camelback Ranch on February 23.

Contract Status

Grabow signed a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. He has an out clause in late March that will allow him to become a free agent if he isn't added to the active roster.


Year Age IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP x-FIP tERA ERA+
2009 30 72.1 4.98 7.09 3.36 4.20 4.88 3.99 128
31 25.1 4.56 7.01 7.36 5.69 4.77 5.88 58
2011 32 62.1 4.04 5.49 4.76 5.08 5.02 5.42 82
2012 Projections - Age 33 Season


Bill James 58.0 4.19 6.98 4.50 4.55

PECOTA 27.2 4.23 6.83 4.23 5.69

ZiPS 52.2 4.10 6.15 4.44 4.51

2012 Outlook

Though I think Grabow would be nice depth to have in Triple A if needed, I don't think he will make the team in spring training and will end up exercising his out clause in March.

What is your prediction? Be sure to guess Grabow's ERA, number of innings pitched, plus anything else you would like to predict.