A look back at the 2013 season of J.P. Howell, who dominated hitters and put together a 4-1 record with a 2.03 ERA in 62 innings.
What went right?
J.P. Howell quietly had one of the best seasons in the Dodgers' bullpen. The lefty's 2.03 ERA was his lowest since he made his debut in 2005. His 1.048 WHIP was also a career-best.
Prior to the season, Los Angeles signed Howell to a 1-year $2.85 million dollar deal to be a lefty option out of the bullpen, but he turned into much more than that.
Before the season started, Don Mattingly said during spring training, "He's a guy that gets righties out. His stuff is not the typical 94 lefty. It's soft and it changes speed."
Howell was arguably the Dodgers' best lefty out of the bullpen. That continued into the postseason where he had a 1.50 ERA and gave up just one earned run over 18 innings.
The lefty put up an impressive ERA and WHIP, but he also had some other solid numbers. Howell gave up just two homers and threw only 3 wild pitches the entire season. Howell also gave up just 14 runs in 2013, a career best.
Howell also had a knack for getting out of tough situations. Like this one in game four of the NLCS:
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But Howell didn't dominate the entire season...
What went wrong?
At the end of April, Howell's ERA was 4.82. The lefty gave up five runs over 9.1 innings. The only other thing Howell did wrong was in game 4 of the National League Championship Series. With one out in the top of the 7th and the Cardinals up 3-2, Howell gave up a solo shot to Shane Robinson. The Dodgers ended up losing 4-2, but that home run might have taken their momentum away.
But when you talk about the regular season, his April was really the only thing he did wrong. The rest of the season, Howell gave up one run in May, four in June, one in July, two in August, and one in September. In the end, he had a great season.
Howell, 30, is a free agent, and according to ESPN's Buster Olney, he could be looking for a three-year deal (ESPN insider required). But at the same time, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon, thinks Howell will stay in LA. It could take around $4-6 million dollars a year to keep Howell, but if he continues to pitch like he did last season, he might be worth it.