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2020 Dodgers in review: Dennis Santana

Expanded rosters paved the way for major league experience in 2020

Los Angeles Dodgers v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After getting only cups of coffee in parts of 2018 and 2019, Dennis Santana got to spend extended time on a major league roster in 2020. The results were mixed.

Santana made the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster, a beneficiary of active roster limits at 30 players for the first two weeks of the season. But he stayed longer than that.

The right-hander was mostly the long man in the bullpen, used when the game was out of hand one way or another. Of his nine appearances in August, Santana entered seven of them with the Dodgers either leading or trailing by at least five runs.

Santana pitched fairly well, and through the first four weeks of the season had a 2.38 ERA. But he then allowed eight runs while recording eight outs in a seven-day stretch, and in a shortened season that will wreck anyone’s numbers. That stretch included allowing a walk-off home run to Donovan Solano, concluding a wild game in San Francisco in which the Dodgers blew saves in the ninth, 10th, and 11th innings.

The Dodgers optioned Santana to the alternate training site on September 12, with a little over two weeks left in the season.

Of the 21 Dodgers who threw a pitch this season, Santana ranked eighth with a 24.7-percent strikeout rate. But he had the third-highest ERA and fourth-highest FIP, too.

2020 particulars

Age: 24

Stats: 5.29 ERA (81 ERA+), 5.72 FIP, 18 K, 7 BB, 17 IP

Salary: $573,500

Game of the year

Santana was the ninth pitcher used by the Dodgers in their first extra-inning game of the season, on July 29 in Houston. He was tested throughout his outing, thanks to the 2020 rule of starting each extra inning with a free runner on second base.

Santana entered a tie game in the 11th inning, with two outs and the winning run just 90 feet away. He struck out George Springer to end that threat, then worked around a walk with two strikeouts to get through the 12th. After the Dodgers took the lead in the 13th, Santana worked around another walk in the bottom of the inning, getting a double play and strikeout to close out the win.

Every batter Santana faced had at least one runner in scoring position, and he held Houston to 0-for-6 with two walks, four strikeouts and a double play for his 2⅓ scoreless innings and second major league win.

“What a wild ride this one was,” Joe Davis said on the SportsNet LA broadcast.

Roster status

Santana has one year, 105 days of major league service time, and has one option year remaining, having used options in 2018 and 2019. Santana was optioned in 2020 as well, but only for 16 days, four days shy of exhausting his final option year.