STEPHEN FIFE, 27, pitcher
Final 2013 stats: 4-4, 3.86 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, .304 opponent batting average, 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings in 12 games (58 1/3 innings).
Contract status: Under team control.
The good: In six June starts he went 3-2 with a 2.21 ERA. In 10 overall starts he posted a 3.04 ERA and was looking like a solid member of the rotation. In five appearances at home (four starts), he went 3-1 with a 3.45 ERA.
The bad: He gave up too many hits. Twice went on the disabled list with shoulder bursitis. The Dodgers wanted to get a look at him as a reliever, but in the five innings of his two relief appearances he gave up seven runs on 10 hits and three walks.
What’s next: The 2014 season will likely approach looking a lot like it did in 2013 for Fife. The rotation and bullpen figure to be full, and he will be the emergency starter waiting in triple-A.
The take: If he could actually stay healthy, Fife looks like a decent back-of-the-rotation starter. The trouble is, bursitis is difficult to completely eliminate and has a tendency to keep flaring. He doesn’t do any one thing spectacularly, but several effectively.
Working out of the bullpen to put less stress on the shoulder doesn’t appear the answer. In addition to his struggles with the Dodgers as a reliever, he gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in four relief innings at triple-A Albuquerque. He pretty much disappeared from the scene once the Dodgers acquired Ricky Nolasco on July 6.
He may not be a front-of-the-rotation guy, but he’s shown he can help and be useful when needed. He just turned 27 in October, so there’s remains plenty of time to try to sort out his shoulder problems.
The Dodgers continue to have ambitious plans for their rotation that clearly do not include Fife, but last season proved once again that you can never have too much pitching. And Fife could yet offer rotation depth.