We’ve reached the time in our review of the 2023 Dodgers with a player who did not actually play for the team, non-injury division. Though perhaps Zack Burdi might qualify for both.
Roster roulette is something we are used to with the Dodgers, trying to make incremental upgrades whenever possible, or at least when room can be made on the 40-man roster. Sometimes the roster churn uncovers Evan Phillips, who has been the Dodgers’ best reliever pretty much since 2021 when he, like Burdi was claimed off waivers from the Rays.
The Dodgers claimed Burdi off waivers on May 26, and optioned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City. But after only five days on the 40-man roster, another potential roster opportunity presented itself. The Dodgers on June 1 traded for pitcher Ricky Vanasco, who was designated for assignment by the Rangers only a few days earlier.
Burdi was the roster casualty here, designated for assignment to make room for Vanasco. Burdi cleared waivers and was sent outright to Oklahoma City, continuing a very busy transactional history for the right-hander.
A first-round pick out of Louisville in 2016, drafted six spots higher than his college catcher Will Smith, Burdi has pitched for five organizations in the last four years.
Burdi had Tommy John surgery in 2017 while with the White Sox, and was limited to only 10 appearances in late 2022 in the Nationals minors after dealing with another elbow injury. A torn patella in his right knee also cost Burdi two months during 2019.
Maybe the Dodgers might have found something in the 28-year-old Burdi, who struck out eight of his 18 batters faced with Oklahoma City with 4⅔ scoreless innings. But he only pitched four games before succumbing to another injured list stint.
Burdi’s last game for Oklahoma City was June 16, he landed on the injured list four days later, and ended the year on the 60-day injured list.
Stats: 4⅔ IP, 0.00 ERA, 8 K, 1 BB with Triple-A OKC
Game of the year
The longest of Burdi’s four outings with Oklahoma City, came on June 8 at El Paso, facing the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate. He retired all five batters he faced.
Entering with a 3-0 lead with one out in the seventh inning, he inherited runners at the corners from Justin Bruihl. Burdi induced a flyout and strikeout to end the inning, the former a sacrifice fly to bring home a run. But he pitched a perfect eighth with another strikeout to preserve the lead.
As someone who was outrighted more than once, Burdi after the season opted for free agency.