Despite a career 2.99 FIP and 11.1 K/9, Josh Fields has struggled throughout his career to turn strong peripherals into positive results, possessing a 4.34 ERA in four MLB seasons. Fields is either one of the unluckiest players in baseball, or has a real problem with batted balls in play that is in FIP's blind spot. The Dodgers decided to take a chance on him at the 2016 trade deadline by acquiring him from the Astros and were rewarded with a 2.79 ERA in 19.1 innings, good enough to land him a playoff roster spot. Fields throws a mid-90s fastball and an inconsistent knuckle curveball, a deadly combination when they're both working. He could stand to get some late-inning opportunities for the Dodgers in 2017 if his improvement with them is real, but he doesn't have much time left to develop at age 31.
Fields was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday, J.P. Hoonstra of the Southern California News Group reports. With Pedro Baez (thumb) coming off the disabled list Friday, the Dodgers had to clear a spot on the roster and ultimately decided to send Fields back to Triple-A. Fields made four relief appearances in his brief stint with the Dodgers, striking out six batters over 3.0 scoreless frames. He figures to be one of the Dodgers' primary relief options should they need to make another bullpen move later in the season.
The Dodgers recalled Fields from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday. Fields takes the roster spot of Rich Hill, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday. Fields will merely act as a depth arm, likely only working mop-up sessions.
Fields was optioned to minor-league camp Tuesday, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. Acquired at the 2016 trade deadline from the Astros, Fields posted a 2.79 ERA over 19.1 innings out of the Dodgers bullpen last season. He was expected to rejoin the team's Opening Day roster in 2017, but a rough spring camp in which he posted a 9.72 ERA over 8.1 innings ultimately led the Dodgers to option him to the minor leagues. The 31-year-old will likely open the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Fields has seen his velocity dip to the 91-92 mph range after averaging 94.7 mph last season, the Los Angeles Times' Andy McCullough reports. Manager Dave Roberts believes the lack of velocity could be the reason the veteran reliever has surrendered nine earned runs in four Cactus League innings. There is no report of an injury or a case of Fields experiencing a dead arm. It is still early in the spring campaign, so there is time for the 31-year-old to figure out his power issues. If he doesn't, Fields' roster spot could be in jeopardy, considering he relies on his fastball (64 percent) as his primary weapon on the mound.
Fields and the Dodgers avoided arbitration with a one-year, $1.05 million deal, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Fields' career has been a case study in underperforming his peripherals, as his career 2.99 FIP is more than a run under his 4.34 ERA. That probably din't help in the arbitration negotiations, given that the process is mostly rewarding for traditional stats.