Before the first game of the four-game series against the Giants on Thursday, the Dodgers made a bullpen swap, optioning Dennis Santana to Triple-A Oklahoma City and recalling Mitch White.
Perhaps you might have missed this yesterday, as the move was made 85 minutes before game time, after pregame media scrums were already over. And White was one of only three Dodgers relievers who didn’t pitch in Thursday’s bullpen game, along with Phil Bickford and Edwin Uceta.
Thursday happened to be the first day White could be brought back, after his 10 days on optional assignment elapsed. Maybe the Dodgers wanted to option Santana sooner, but the only healthy pitchers on the 40-man not in the majors other than — at the time — White were Andre Jackson and Gerardo Carrillo, both of whom are in Double-A.
Santana has 11 walks and eight strikeouts in his 15 innings this season, one of only two Dodgers with more walks than strikeouts, and the only one to pitch in more than three games. Among the 434 major league pitchers with at least 10 innings this season, Santana’s 10.8-percent strikeout rate ranks 427th.
In May, things really went south for Santana, who faced 44 batters this month, walking seven while striking out only two. Only one of Santana’s 11 hits allowed this month was for extra-bases (a double), but the wildness allowed opposing hitters to bat .314/.455/.343 in May.
White hasn’t necessarily been much better in the majors than Santana, with four walks and four strikeouts in his 37 batters faced, allowing eight runs in 7⅔ innings, though only one of them was earned. But sometimes a change of scenery is needed to get things right.
Maybe the week or so in Triple-A was a reset of sorts for White, who struck out five of his 19 batters faced in three games with Oklahoma City, allowing two runs in four innings, with two walks.