Dodgers' Roberts Remains Stuck In Middle Relief

LOS ANGELES Jordan Roberts won't wow you with his fastball or buckle anyone's knees with his 12-to-6 curveball. But he does get people out. And isn't that the goal?

"I've never seen him struggle," high Class A Rancho Cucamonga pitching coach and former big leaguer Matt Herges said. "No matter what the situation. Four innings, a third of an inning. It's unbelievable."

And, apparently, unimpressive. Because in an organization that favors—and promotes—hard throwers, the soft-tossing lefty hasn't pitched above the California League in five minor league seasons.

That's five minor league seasons in which he's never had a losing record, going 22-9, 3.05. That's five seasons in which he had an ERA above 3.03 just once and struck out nearly three times as many hitters as he's walked.

But Roberts' problem isn't so much how he's pitched as when. Although Roberts is 7-0, 3.68 this season in 32 appearances (one start), most of his 66 innings have come in middle relief.

"Obviously everyone wants to be in the big leagues. But if that's all you thought about every day, you would lose focus on playing the game today," he said. "You're still out there, you're performing. That's basically the bottom line."

Roberts, 26, could someday prove valuable as a situational lefty, since lefthanded hitters were batting just .221 against him this season. Plus he has a rubber arm. Over a 15-game stretch through Aug. 1, he pitched at least two innings 10 times, went three innings once and four innings another time.

But if Roberts, an eighth-round pick in 2008 out of Embry-Riddle (Fla.), is to become the school's alum first to reach the majors, he's going to need a break.
"You've got to take it day by day," he said. "And where you're at, you've got to make the best of what you've got."


• Outfielder Leon Landry, one of two minor leaguers the Dodgers sent to the Mariners for reliever Brandon League, could be missed. He hit .328/.358/.559 in 345 at-bats with Rancho Cucamonga before the trade and got off to a 24-for-49 (.490) start at High Desert.

• Third baseman Corey Seager, the 18th overall pick in last June's draft, overcame a slow start to his professional debut in Rookie-level Ogden. The 18-year-old batted just .256 in July but heated up to .405 in his first 42 at-bats in August to boost his overall line to .306/.367/.460 in 124 at-bats.