Adam Kolarek pitched for three major league organizations in 2023, including in the majors for two of them with a 0.00 ERA. Up first was a reunion with the Dodgers, for whom he pitched in the postseason in both 2019 and 2020.
The Dodgers signed Kolarek to a minor league contract in December 2022 that included a non-roster invitation to spring training. Kolarek in the spring was also in the designated player pool for Israel in the World Baseball Classic, which would have made him available for later rounds in the tournament had Israel made it out of pool play.
A hot start in Triple-A, including just one extra-base hit against him with a 2.18 in his first 21 appearances for Oklahoma City, got Kolarek the call back to the majors on June 11. He pitched for the Dodgers right away, entering as the fourth of eight pitchers in a bullpen game on a Sunday series finale in Philadelphia.
Down 1-0, Kolarek came in with runners on second and third with two outs. He allowed a bloop single to center field to score the two inherited runners, which were charged to Tayler Scott’s ledger.
The rest of the appearance was peak Kolarek, with a pair of groundouts — he has a 63.9-percent career groundball rate, including 66.7 percent in the majors and 59 percent in Triple-A in 2023 — plus two strikeouts.
Kolarek’s time with the Dodgers lasted only two games on the active roster, as he was designated for assignment on June 14 once Shelby Miller returned from bereavement leave. Three days later after clearing waivers, Kolarek was sent outright back to Oklahoma City where he continued to thrive.
The Pacific Coast League is an eden for offense, with teams in 2023 averaging 6.10 runs per game. The league-wide ERA was 5.70. But the sidearming left-hander Kolarek with his groundball tendencies tiptoed through the minefield to post a 2.40 ERA in 30 innings. He walked a ton — 16 unintentional free passes, a 12.7-percent rate — but also struck out 26 and allowed zero home runs, holding opposing batters to .252/.368/.291 with Oklahoma City.
Though he wasn’t on the 40-man roster at the time, Kolarek was involved in a trade deadline deal on August 1. He and right-hander Phil Bickford, who was designated for assignment a few days earlier, were sold to the Mets for cash considerations.
Kolarek kept plugging away for Triple-A Syracuse before getting the call back to the majors on August 19. He pitched in four games for the Mets, tossing 4⅔ more scoreless innings, before getting designated for assignment again.
Once he cleared waivers, Kolarek rejected another assignment to the minors, instead opting for free agency. The Braves signed him to a minor league deal on August 31, which made him eligible for the postseason, though he did not make the Braves’ NLDS roster. Kolarek finished out his season pitching in September for Triple-A Gwinnett.
With Kolarek’s scoreless appearance with the Dodgers this season, coupled with his work for Los Angeles in 2019-20, the left-hander has a 0.84 in 47 games with the Dodgers, with 24 strikeouts and six walks in 32 innings. That’s the third-lowest ERA in franchise history with a minimum of 30 innings pitched, behind only Hank Aguirre (0.69 ERA in 1968) and Ryan Brasier (0.70 ERA this year).
Stats: 1 game with Dodgers, 1⅓ IP, 1 H, 2 K
Kolarek became a minor league free agent in November, then signed a one-year, $900,000 major league deal with the Angels on November 26.