Add another piece of evidence to the case that good relievers can come from nowhere. Grant Dayton was traded midseason in 2015 to the Dodgers from the Marlins in exchange for struggling former first-round pick Chris Reed, and was dominant the second he was called up to the majors in late July 2016. By September, Dayton had established himself as the bullpen's top left-handed reliever. In 26.1 innings, he yielded a 2.05 ERA while striking out 39 and walking just six. His arsenal features a low-90s fastball and deadly curveball that he'll mix in about once every five pitches. While a rookie with those numbers could be enticing as a stash, there is a large caveat in that he's a very old rookie at age 28. Still, there's no question he gets strikeouts like few others and is on a team that will keep him in a high-leverage role as long as he keeps it up.
Dayton threw a perfect inning of relief Thursday, striking out one in a spring training loss to the Cubs. Outside of a solo home run surrendered, Dayton has been dominant in his four innings of work this spring. The southpaw has a struck out seven batters while walking one, exhibiting the great command (6.5 K/BB ratio in 2016) that earned him the right to be the Dodgers' left-handed setup man down the stretch last season. That is the role the 29-year-old will fill for the Dodgers on Opening Day, making him a decent source of holds for a club projected to win 90-plus games this season.
Dayton will look to build off of a strong rookie campaign in which he posted a 2.05 ERA and 0.76 WHIP with 39 strikeouts over 26.1 innings. Dayton hit the ground running after getting the call to the majors last August. He gave the club the late-inning lefty they needed down the stretch and was an integral part of their bridge to Kenley Jansen in the postseason. With no high-profile southpaw acquired, Dayton is set to be manager Dave Roberts' top left-handed reliever late in games, making him a solid target for those in holds leagues.
Dayton has been impressive for the Dodgers since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City early last month, tossing 19.1 innings of 1.86 ERA ball. With a 0.72 WHIP and 25:6 K:BB, the peripherals support the solid ERA. Overall between three levels this season, Dayton has posted a very strong 116:17 K:BB in just 71.1 innings. The 28 year-old found himself third in the pecking order for saves recently and would seem to hold some value in leagues that count holds.
Dayton was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. Dayton has produced impressive numbers at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season, compiling a combined 2.42 ERA and 0.79 WHIP over 52 innings between the two levels. He's also shown an impressive ability to prevent runners from reaching base evidenced by his .163 opponent batting average and 91 strikeouts this year. With the call up of the 28-year-old Brock Stewart was optioned back to Triple-A ball.
Dayton was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday. The Dodgers used seven relievers Thursday and eight relievers Friday, so they needed a fresh arm in the bullpen. Ross Stripling was recalled from Triple-A to take Dayton's place. In his first taste of the big leagues Dayton did not disappoint, tossing two shutout innings Friday while allowing just one baserunner via a hit-by-pitch and striking out two. He could very well be back up pitching out of the big league bullpen in short order.