It’s crazy to believe, but Dennis Santana pitched for the Dodgers in every season going back to 2018. While in the minors, Santana was widely regarded as one of the better pitching prospects in the system. Unfortunately, he just never panned out with LA.
Through his first three seasons with LA, Santana struggled to look like a solid big-league pitcher. He appeared in only a limited number of games over his first three seasons, pitching only 25.2 innings. In that small sample size, he posted a 6.66 ERA, 5.53 FIP and 1.52 WHIP.
Santana showed flashes in spring training early in 2021 and looked the best he’s looked while wearing a Dodgers uniform. It looked as if maybe this could be the year he turns into a reliable bullpen piece.
He was called up one week into the season and looked like he was building off a strong spring training. In his first three outings, Santana tossed three scoreless innings with three strikeouts and one walk. Knowing his numbers through the previous three years, seeing him have three straight scoreless outings was a very encouraging sign.
Sadly, things just went downhill for Santana over the course of the next month. Over his next 13 games, the righty posted an ERA of 7.50 and a FIP of 5.34. In 12 innings of action, he allowed 10 runs on 15 hits and had twice as many walks (10) as strikeouts (5).
The Dodgers decided it was finally time to cut ties with Santana, as they designated him for assignment on June 12. Five days later he was traded to the team where all former Dodgers end up, the Texas Rangers, for minor league pitcher Kelvin Bautista.
He appeared in 39 games for the Rangers and was actually pretty solid for them. Santana turned things around, posting a 3.63 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in Texas. He was especially good over the final month of the season... like, really good.
Over his final 16 games of 2021, Santana posted an ERA of 0.64 and a FIP of 2.81. He was holding opponents to an OPS of .479. It’s a shame he wasn’t with the Dodgers when he turned things around, but I’m glad he was finally able to do so.
Stats: 6.00 ERA, 15 IP, 18 K, 11 BB, 4.90 FIP, 1.93 WHIP, 70 ERA+ (w/ LA)
Game of the year
My personal favorite Dennis Santana game of the year (and his Dodgers tenure) came on April 16 in San Diego. Santana took the mound in the bottom of the 10th inning with the game tied at six.
With a runner on third and one out, he hit Jorge Mateo with a pitch to put runners on the corners. Mateo took offense to being hit and started jawing with Santana. Something about the way Santana handled the situation was just really badass to me. He just seemed to not really care.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Santana faced one of the best hitters in all of baseball in Fernando Tatis Jr. With the winning run 90 feet away, Santana struck Tatis out looking and was pumped exiting the mound.
It was an awesome moment from a truly awesome game.
Santana is currently on the Rangers’ 40-man roster.