When the Dodgers claimed Phil Bickford off waivers back in May, how many of you expected him to be one of the more reliable options in LA’s bullpen? Don’t worry, we’re not here to judge. I’ll admit, I didn’t even think he’d crack the 26-man roster at any point.
And yet, here we are three months later. Bickford has shocked all of us and has been one of the top options for the Dodgers out of the bullpen this year.
“I’ve bought into the organization and just been enjoying it,” Bickford said to the media on Sunday.
Bickford was drafted by the Giants with the 18th overall pick in the 2015 draft. In August of 2016 he was traded to the Brewers. He was solid coming up through the minors, but struggled in his two big-league games with Milwaukee. In just two innings, he allowed six runs on six hits.
For some reason, the Brewers didn’t like what they saw from Bickford, and his time with Milwaukee was over. Then, he was given a second chance and claimed off waivers by the Dodgers. Since that move, his career has completely flipped around.
With the Dodgers, Bickford has appeared in 37 games and owns a 2.08 ERA. He has a 2.72 FIP and 1.06 WHIP, along with 42 strikeouts in 34 2⁄3 innings of action. He’s also known as having a “rubber-arm”, as he essentially available every night almost.
“When it comes to the days, we’re just being responsible about it,” Bickford said when asked about his usage. “We’re all communicating and being honest. We all have trust. Whatever it takes to help the team win each day.”
Since making his Dodgers debut on May 23, Bickford leads all Dodgers pitchers with 37 games. Blake Treinen is the next closest with 30 and Kenley Jansen has 27. It doesn’t matter if it is back-to-back or three games in four nights, Bickford is always available for LA.
It’s one thing to always be available, it’s another thing to be consistently great. In high leverage situations, Bickford has a 42.9 strikeout percentage and is holding opponents to a .056 average. He also owns a 1.29 FIP. With runners in scoring position, he is holding opponents to a .128 average.
Whether they envisioned it or not, the Dodgers have turned to Bickford as one of their more reliable options late in games. However, Bickford envisioned being in this situation when he came here.
“100 percent,” he said. “That’s what everyone in this game should want. You always want to have the ball, especially in high-leverage spots.
“This organization made it very simple. Just be yourself and take it day-by-day, I’ve just been grateful.”
Bickford grew up in the LA area. He was born in Ventura and attended Oaks Christian High School in Westlake. Being a local kid, he grew up watching the Dodgers and attending games at Dodger Stadium. Once a young kid watching games in the stands, Bickford is currently helping the Dodgers as they try and win their second consecutive World Series championship.