When the Dodgers picked up Edinson Volquez on Thursday, the question everyone was asking was, "Why?" The bullpen has been rock-solid, the starting rotation has put up fantastic numbers from the top four pitchers, and Volquez was just cut by the team with the worst starting pitcher ERA in the National League, San Diego.
More or less, the move is a no-cost experiment. The Dodgers are reportedly covering just $85,000 of his salary this year, and are hoping that with the right tweaks in his delivery he can be an effective piece of the team. The biggest cost involved is if he costs them some games on the mound.
Before the game, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said the reason they chose to sign Volquez was that pitching coach Rick Honeycutt believes he can "fix" him. Honeycutt was looking over tape from Volquez's recent starts and wanted to try and work with him.
Those recent Volquez starts are not pretty either, including a start of 0.2 innings with five runs allowed, and another of 4.1 innings with eight runs allowed.
Still, even if they tweaked Volquez into something that is not entirely awful, is he better than what they have available? On Sunday the rosters expand to 40 players, so he will have to prove his worth in the next month in order to make the cut onto the regular-sized, 25-man playoff rosters.
On Friday, the hard-throwing youngster, Chris Withrow, was optioned to the minors to make room for Volquez, but he will be back with the team most likely by Tuesday.
Friday also marked the Dodger debut for Volquez, as he came in from the bullpen with a 9-1 lead in the eighth inning against his former team, the San Diego Padres. He pitched a scoreless inning and gave up one hit on 21 pitches, just 12 were strikes though.
As of now he will come out of the bullpen, but the Dodgers see more for him. Don Mattingly said, "Pretty much he's been a starter. And we like his stuff and we like what we think he's capable of doing. As of right now it starts with the pen and we'll figure that out."
Carlos Marmol was another one of Honeycutt's fix-em-up projects, and so far he has turned out pretty well. Besides his first two appearances with the Dodgers, Marmol has pitched in 11 games, and given up no runs, five hits, and seven walks with 11 strikeouts in 9.1 innings. Those numbers will not blow you away, but it is certainly better than 13 runs he gave up in his last 19 games with the Cubs.
Nobody really knows what to expect from Edinson Volquez, but he will get his shot over the next month. If he finds his stride and does make the playoff roster, hopefully he manages to stay strong and will not blow things in the post-season.