2012 Dodgers in Review #34: SP Stephen Fife

December 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Posted in 2012 in Review, Stephen Fife | Leave a comment

I can’t stand to think about the winter meetings for one second longer, and anyway, everyone’s traveling home from Nashville right now anyway. Let’s get another season in review piece out of the way.

2.70 ERA 4.14 FIP 26.2 IP 6.75 K/9 4.05 BB/9 0.2 fWAR A-

2012 in brief: Managed to survive five starts that rarely quite looked as good as the end result seemed to indicate.

2013 status: Hope you like Albuquerque, Stephen. If he’s starting for the Dodgers next year, things have gone terribly wrong.

******

Near the end of April, pal Chris Jackson stepped in here to provide an early report about the first few weeks of the Triple-A season. Here’s what he said about Stephen Fife:

Fife has just plain struggled wherever he has pitched this year (1-2, 9.92 ERA). The big righty is a finesse pitcher and so far the PCL is chewing him up.

So to see that Fife went from that early report in the minors to an A- in the bigs, well, that’s not bad at all, is it? By June, Fife had turned around his season enough to warrant being recalled over John Ely when Chad Billingsley made his initial trip to the disabled list. Despite being unfortunate enough to have to face Roy Halladay in his debut, Fife performed well, tossing six innings of one-run ball at the Phillies, despite striking out merely a single batter.

He was sent back down the next day to make room for Javy Guerra‘s return, but he was back in less than two weeks when the Dodgers suddenly needed to fill Nathan Eovaldi‘s turn after he was traded to Miami. His second start was nearly identical, with 6.1 more innings allowing only one run, yet striking out only two. In 12.1 innings, Fife’s ERA was 1.46, but his FIP was something like 124.98. (Probably.) He made a third start in Shane Victorino‘s debut on August 1, and that was the last we saw of him for six weeks as Joe Blanton and then Josh Beckett arrived to reinforce the rotation.

Once the Triple-A season ended, Fife returned to the big club, but his expected role as “emergency depth” changed quickly when he was forced into service on September 16 in a big game against St. Louis when Clayton Kershaw‘s hip acted up. Remember, at the time, overtaking the Cardinals was the only path to the playoffs:

Yet with all that, the Dodgers can still come out of this weekend with control of a playoff spot if Fife and friends can take one more from the Cardinals. (Yes, there’s an argument to be made for John Ely instead, but it’s really not a big enough difference to care that much.) For me, this is win/win. If Fife pitches well and the Dodgers win, then they’ve taken three of four and head into tomorrow’s off-day with momentum. If he gets lit up, as we’re all sure he will soon enough? Then we can hopefully stop hearing things like “herp derp 2.16 ERA”.

Fife actually responded with an excellent outing, striking out nine Cards over five innings, though the Dodgers lost in a game that went 12. Fife made one more start in Cincinnati a week later, and he was left with this season line:

26.2 innings. 20/12 K/BB. 8 earned runs. 2.70 ERA. 4.14 FIP.

That’s after a Triple-A season in which he put up a 4.27 FIP, and I think I know which of his MLB ERA/FIP numbers I put more stock in going forward. Still, Fife didn’t allow more than three earned runs in any of his starts, and he showed that as a depth option, he’s a decent guy to have around. I don’t know that that shouts anything more than “fifth starter”, but even still, the world needs those guys too. That said, with a stuffed Dodger rotation still looking to add more arms, it’s going to take a lot of injuries to see Fife again next year.

******

Next up! I’m going to miss you, Rubby de la Rosa!

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