There will be a lot of questions in regards to who will crack the Opening Day roster out of the bullpen for the Dodgers. A good number of names are already locks, but there are a few players who find themselves fighting for one of the final spots.
One of those names is Dennis Santana, who has seen time with the Dodgers every year since 2018. Although it’s been a small sample size, Santana has looked very good so far in his three outings this spring.
“I just think he’s really healthy and he’s gotten more physical,” manager Dave Roberts said following Sunday’s game. “He put in a lot of good work this past winter. He just has as good of command since I’ve seen him.”
On Sunday, Santana threw a scoreless inning of relief with a strikeout. Through his three games this spring, he’s thrown three scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He’s issued zero walks and has allowed only one hit. Again, a very small sample size, but a very encouraging one, knowing he’s fighting for a bullpen spot.
Dennis Santana continues to impress pic.twitter.com/2qf0fQFA76— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) March 7, 2021
Last season, Santana appeared in 12 games for the Dodgers. In 17 innings of action, he allowed 11 runs to score on 15 hits. However, Santana’s ability to give the Dodgers multiple innings out of the bullpen is a huge bonus. Last season, he threw more than one inning in seven of his 12 appearances.
Roberts knows how valuable that will be, having someone who can enter a game and eat innings if needed.
“He’s got a good opportunity,” Roberts said. “He can take down a couple of innings. We’re very fond of him. He’s done everything he can up to this point.”
With the Dodgers’ starting rotation likely being set up already (barring any injuries or something major happening) that kind of puts Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May in a tough situation. With the Triple-A season starting a month later, both those guys won’t be able to see consistent playing time in the minors.
If they are with the big-league club, those two will likely be used as options out of the bullpen in long relief. Roberts knows that they’re in a unique situation with those two, but he wants to make sure they continue to develop.
“I think the main thing is continuing to work on their development,” Roberts said. “Build up of 3-5 innings and continue to work. Build up is the most important thing in trying to see how that fits on our big-league ball club.”
He said that regardless of which starters land in the bullpen, he’s going to be relying on them for length. Roberts wants to keep those two built up if something unforeseen were to happen. He also added that the Dodgers starting the season with four games at Coors Field also adds to their value as well, as some pitchers might have to leave after only a few innings.