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Milwaukee Brewers claim Donnie Hart off waivers from Dodgers

Los Angeles had him, and now they don’t.

MLB: Game One-Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Surprise, the Milwaukee Brewers bring in someone new to the organization. Left handed, side-arm throwing pitcher, Donnie Hart was claimed off waivers from the Los Angles Dodgers, and optioned to Triple-A San Antonio. To create roster space, Bobby Wahl was transferred to the 60-day injured list. The addition of Hart keeps the 40-man roster at capacity.

In 2016, Hart debuted with the Baltimore Orioles where he appeared in 22 games and gave up just one earned run in 18.1 innings. His 2017 was less successful. Pitching across 43.2 innings, he managed a 3.71 ERA and a 4.49 FIP. Interestingly there was a meaningful increase in BABIP between 2016 (.212) and 2017 (.309). He followed 2017 with a worse season in 2018 where he pitched in 19.1 innings earning an ERA of 5.59 and a 5.02 FIP. He also saw another significant increase in BABIP (.403). For even more concern about Hart, he gave up 12 runs on 31 hits with an awful 13:12 K/BB ratio.

Hart has been successful at the minor league level. In his time at Triple-A Norfolk (2017-2018), he pitched to a 2.40 ERA. He had a K/9 of 11.74 in 2017 and 9.88 in 2018. His BB/9 in 2017 was 1.17 and 2.20 in 2018. He looks like another ground ball specialist as he gets close to 50% ground balls during most years. He has a three-pitch mix including a fastball (threw it 56.5% time in 2018), slider (threw it 32.5% in 2018), and changeup (threw it 11% in 2018). His fastball sits at about 88 mph, so it looks like he relies on keeping the ball down in the zone and inducing weak contact when he is at his best.

David Stearns and company obviously see an untapped potential in the 28 year old. His first year in the league and Triple-A success would suggest that to be the case. The Dodgers certainly thought they could fix what ailed him. They DFA’d Josh Fields, maybe not to get him, but he was who replaced him on the 40-man.

If he can get it together at the major league level, he profiles as the classic “LOOGY”, a role that worked for him well in 2016 (slash vs. lefties - .122/.190/.158 and slash vs. righties - .292/.370/.417). There was little difference in his lefty-righty splits for 2017 (slash vs. lefties - .273/.371/.403 and slash vs. righties - .281/.317/.421) and 2018 (slash vs. lefties - .326/.415/.533 and slash vs. righties - .390/.457/.439). He had trouble getting anybody out. Let’s hope that Brewers’ player development can right that ship and pull another diamond out of the rough.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs