Sunday afternoon at Chavez Ravine was hot, but Dodgers reliever Jose Dominguez was hotter in his major league debut against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The 22-year-old Dominican fireballer retired Delmon Young, Ben Revere and Carlos Ruiz in order in the eighth inning, hitting 101 mph twice and 100 mph once, as he preserved a 4-0 lead.
“Everybody works for this moment,’ Dominguez said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Dominguez was called up from triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday when reliever Peter Moylan was optioned out. With the Dodgers leading comfortably after seven innings, Manager Don Mattingly called on Dominguez, who skipped out of the bullpen and jogged to the mound.
His first pitch to Young was a 97-mph cutter outside and low that skidded off catcher A.J. Ellis’ glove toward the backstop. But the second and third pitches were 99-mph fastballs that Young couldn’t handle -- fouling back the first and swinging through the second -- before Dominguez cranked the heat to 101 mph on the next pitch and left Young’s bat trailing in the wind.
Dominguez then induced Revere to ground out to short and Ruiz to pop out to second base, showcasing his slider and change-up as well as breaking the 100-mph mark twice more.
It’s that velocity, Mattingly said, that makes him such an appealing prospect -- especially compared to Moylan and Matt Guerrier, who was cut Sunday.
“He can make a mistake and miss a bat,” Mattingly said. “That’s what you like.”
But Dominguez said he’s more than just a hard thrower. He closed the inning by retiring Ruiz on an 81-mph slider.
Walking back to the Dodgers’ dugout, Dominguez was congratulated by Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez. They wrapped their arms around him and glove-tapped his hat. The rest of his teammates were waiting with high-fives at the dugout steps.
Ramirez said his Dominican league teammate last winter has improved considerably since they last played together.
“He’s learning how to pitch and locating the ball pretty well,” Ramirez said.
It’s no secret the Dodgers bullpen has been problematic this season. Discarded closer Brandon League can barely throw his warm-up pitches before the boos start.
But the active arm of Dominguez could be a nice addition to the regrouping relief corps. With Kenley Jansen and Paco Rodriguez cementing the back end of the bullpen, a few more strong outings could push Dominguez into a regular sixth- or seventh-inning role.
“I feel great, really great,” Dominguez said. “[I’m] working hard to stay here.”