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2022 Dodgers in review: Heath Hembree

Or “The traveler from Pittsburgh in San Diego”

San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Richard Heath Hembree was a late addition to the 2022 Dodgers bullpen. Hembree, a journeyman reliever who has been in major leagues for thirteen seasons, spent the majority of the year with the Pittsburgh Pirates. While in Pittsburgh, Hembree appeared in 20 games and went 2-0. He pitched 16⅓ innings, and gave up 17 hits and 13 runs, resulting in a 7.16 ERA. He walked 14 and struck out 12 while with the Pirates. Overall, in 2022, Hembree did not pitch a full inning all year without giving up some measure of traffic.

The Pirates signed Hembree to a one-year, $2.125 million contract in March. He was a reliable reliever for the Boston Red Sox from 2015 to 2019, until he became more prone to give up home runs with a 6.43 ERA over 2020 and 2021. Based on his ineffectiveness, Hembree was designated for assignment by the Pirates on June 22. Four days later, he was released.

On June 30, the Dodgers signed Hembree to a minor league contract. After pitching two games in the Arizona Complex League, Hembree joined Triple-A Oklahoma City in August. While at OKC, Hembree appeared in 10 games, going 1-0 with a save. He pitched 9⅓ innings with a 4.82 ERA, walking two and striking out 14.

On August 30, Hembree returned to the big leagues as the Dodgers had a potential playoff preview with the New York Mets in New York. While with the Dodgers, Hembree wore No. 56. With a severely depleted bullpen, Hembree and Jake Reed were added to the active roster. Hembree pitched better for the Dodgers than Pittsburgh but he did not have a clean inning during his tenure with Los Angeles.

Pressed into active service, Hembree pitched the sixth inning, giving up two hits but getting a strikeout and the win for his troubles, in a 4-3 Dodgers victory. Hembree also appeared in the finale of the Mets series, pitching another inning and walking one.

Dodgers pitcher Heath Hembree throws during the sixth inning of the team’s baseball game against the New York Mets on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, in New York.
Dodgers pitcher Heath Hembree throws during the sixth inning of the team’s baseball game against the New York Mets on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, in New York.
(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

After that game, when Heath Hembree appeared in a game for the rest of the season it was against the San Diego Padres, both in Los Angeles and San Diego. The latter two appearances were on September 9-10. Hembree failed to impress in the first of those against the Padres, as he was walked off by Jake Cronenworth in seven pitches in the tenth inning.

Hembree appeared one final time the following night in a mop-up role, where he turned an 8-2 Dodgers’ lead into an 8-4 final result in fourteen pitches in the bottom of the ninth inning. But he did end the game and his season on a strikeout, which is a nice note.

Hembree strikes out Luis Liberato. Petco Park. September 10, 2022.
Hembree strikes out Luis Liberato. Petco Park. September 10, 2022.
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

On September 13, Tommy Kahnle’s return from the injured list spelled the end of Hembree’s tenure with the Dodgers as he was designated for assignment. On September 16, Hembree cleared waivers and instead elected free agency.

2022 particulars

Age: 33

Stats: 1-1, 7.94 ERA, 5⅔ IP, 3 BB, 5 K w/Dodgers; 2-0, 7.36 ERA, 22 IP, 17 BB, 17 K overall

Salary: $2.125 million (all but pro-rated minimum salary paid by Pirates)

Game of the year

Hembree’s best outing in a Dodger uniform was his second appearance with the club on September 1 in New York. As previously stated, he pitched the bottom of the eighth inning and gave up a walk.

Roster status

Hembree is a free agent.