Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Welcome to the Blue, Jimmy Nelson!

Right on the heels of new revelations that the Dodgers may have been cheated out of a consecutive World Series championships (link here, via Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors) comes news that the Dodgers have added more depth to their 2020 roster. Per a tweet from Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times we find out that the Dodgers are signing 30-year old right-handed pitcher Jimmy Nelson.
BTW, you can follow Jimmy on both twitter and instagram (here and here). He is also a gamer with a twitch channel, here. Apparently, he is a #PlayStationAmbassador who actively plays MLB THE SHOW 19.

As I'm sure you figured out, this is one of those signings that is low risk (a low dollar amount) with potentially high rewards -- think Brandon Morrow. Jimmy Nelson, the 2014 PCL Pitcher of the Year, is coming off an injury marred 2018. In September 2017 he hurt his shoulder and was diagnosed with a right rotator cuff strain and a partial anterior labrum tear, and did not return to a Major League field until June 2019. Once back, the starter struggled with elbow soreness and was eventually non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of the season.

His finest year was in 2017 when he went 12-6 with a 3.49 ERA, 3.05 FIP and 10.2 strike outs per nine innings. Nelson also came in ninth place in Cy Young voting that season.

He is expected to compete against Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Ross Stripling for the fifth spot in the Dodger starting rotation this coming spring. I suspect, though that he'll find a home in the bullpen -- at least for now.

As for a scouting report, Brooks Baseball indicates that in 2019 "he relied primarily on his Sinker (93mph), Slider (86mph), Fourseam Fastball (93mph) and Curve (83mph). He also rarely threw a Change (87mph)." They also added the following:
His sinker has surprisingly little armside run, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has slightly above average velo. His slider sweeps across the zone, generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sliders, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders and has some two-plane movement. His fourseam fastball is straight as an arrow, has some natural sinking action and has essentially average velo. His curve is much harder than usual, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' curves and has a sharp downward bite. His change (take this with a grain of salt because he's only thrown 3 of them in 2019) is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' changeups, has surprising cut action, is much firmer than usual, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has some natural sink to it.
Below are more stories about Jimmy Nelson and this recent signing I thought worth checking out:
It’s hard to know what to expect out of Nelson, who’s now thirty years of age. He exhibited a fairly significant velocity loss but still sat at around 93 mph in 2019. He dove in both first-strike rate (50.5%) and chase rate (23.6%), suggesting some reduction of command, pitch quality, and/or confidence. But Statcast still identified well-above-average spin on Nelson’s pitches.
The deal will definitely pay off for Los Angeles because it’s structured so that it can’t not — Guggenheim Baseball Management probably pays more for paper supplies each year than they’ve committed in guaranteed dollars here — but that still leaves the somewhat more interesting question unanswered: will Nelson, the human being, be any good at playing baseball next year? Shoulder and elbow injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from, while simultaneously being excellent predictors of similar injuries in the future, so in terms of a first approximation, the prognosis here isn’t promising. That said, Nelson is tall (6-foot-6), relatively young (30), and motivated. Stranger things have happened than a bounce-back year with a new team.
In celebration of him coming to LA I made two fantasy custom Baseball cards of him. You can see both of them at the very top of this post.

UPDATE: It's now official. Below is an excerpt from a Dodgers press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Jimmy Nelson on a one-year contract. 
Nelson, 30, joins the Dodgers after spending the last six seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. In six years with the Brewers, he went a combined 33-46 with a 4.22 ERA (297 ER/633.1 IP) and 578 strikeouts against 240 walks. He posted his best season in 2017, going 12-6 with a 3.49 ERA (68 ER/175.1 IP) and 199 strikeouts in 29 starts. He finished second on the team in wins while ranking eighth in the National League in strikeouts, ninth in ERA and 13th in WHIP (1.25). He finished the season on the injured list with rotator cuff strain that he suffered on September 8 and missed the entire 2018 season with partially torn labrum in his right shoulder. 
Last season, he appeared in 10 games (three starts) for Milwaukee, going 0-2 with a 6.95 ERA (17 ER/22.0 IP) and 26 strikeouts. He was non-tendered by the Brewers on December 2. 
The Florida native began his career with Milwaukee after being drafted in the second round of the 2010 First Year Player Draft out of the University of Alabama. In three seasons with the Crimson Tide, he went 14-9 with a 4.62 ERA in 58 games. In 2014, he was awarded with the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year award, going 10-2 with a 1.46 ERA (23 ER/111.0 IP) and 114 strikeouts in 17 games for the Nashville Sounds.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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