Nick Tropeano: The Long Path to the Dodgers

He’s been through a lot

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 26: Dustin Garneau #13 and Nick Tropeano #35 of the Los Angeles Angels look back before the go on to the field for the start of the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 26, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

With all the recent moves the Dodgers have made at the trade deadline, it’s easy to overlook the recent acquisition of Nick Tropeano.

Who Is Nick Tropeano?

First of all, before we wind through his incredible path to the Dodgers,  I wanted to mention that I was fortunate enough to get to see him pitch while he was with the Oklahoma Redhawks in 2014. Oklahoma City was the AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros at that time before they became the Dodgers. It was also before they cheated in the 2017 World Series as well. Sorry, I couldn’t resist! Okay. Back to Tropeano…

He was really, really good in OKC in 2014, and, in fact, he led the AAA Pacific Coast League in ERA at 2.02 that year. That was good enough to get him a September call-up with Houston. That’s when Tropeano got introduced to the business side of baseball. In the following Winter, after the 2014 season, Tropeano got traded to the Angels. Over the next 5 seasons with the Angels Tropeano made 17 starts. Although his career with the Angels had some promise, his stint with the Angels became plagued with injuries which is why he only had those17 starts.

Tommy John Surgery

In 2016, Teopeano had to have Tommy John surgery and that forced him to miss the remainder of 2016 and all of 2017. It was a big setback for a guy that was carving out a nice MLB career. Tropeano just simply was not going to give up on his dream of being a Major Leaguer, however, and, in 2018, he did just that. Tropeano made it all the way back to the Big Leagues with the Angels, but only to see the injury bug hit again. This time it was elbow inflammation, and after 14 starts, Tropeano was shut down for the rest of 2018 as well.

In 2019 Tropeano threw just 13.2 Innings and had an ERA pushing 10, so the Angels placed him on waivers, he cleared waivers, and then they outrighted him back to AAA Salt Lake. At the end of the 2019 season, Tropeano became a free agent.

How Many Teams?

That following season Tropeano was offered a Minor League contract with the Yankees and he took it. Despite not signing a Major League contract to start the season, Tropeano once again persevered and got called up to the big club on August 6. But he never made an appearance with Yankees, and was designated for assignment again, and, yes, placed on waivers again.

But, this time he got picked up off the waiver wire, and it was by Pittsburgh. He threw 15.2 innings for the Pirates and had a minuscule 1.15 ERA in those innings. But, for some reason, the Pirates didn’t see a long-term future for him in Pittsburgh, so they placed him on waivers, again, and, again, he was picked up.

This time it was the Mets. But, for the 2nd time in his career, Tropeano wasn’t offered a Major League contract and was put back on waivers. Tropeano again chose Free Agency and wound up with the Giants. Unbelievably, after just 4 appearances with them, they placed him on waivers too.

To The Dodgers, Eventually

So, here come the Mets AGAIN. The Mets picked him back up in June of this year, but after just 2 innings of work, they designated him for assignment, yes, again. Guess what Tripeano chose?
If you guessed Free Agency give yourself a pat on the back. Yes, once again instead of going through waivers, again, Tropeano chose Free Agency and that’s when the Dodgers picked him up.

Did you get all that?

I’m out of breath just typing that and I’m worn out just trying to take it all in. So let’s summarize and make a short story long,

Tropeano has been with 7 different organizations, has been with the Mets on 2 different occasions, has had season-ending arm injuries twice, has been Designated for Assignment 6 times, has been traded once, has been a free agent 3 times, and has finally landed with the Dodgers. That enough?

What Type Of Pitcher Is Tropeano?

So, now that we know WHO Nick Tropeano is, let’s dive into WHAT Nick Tropeano is.

Tropeano is a big physical presence at 6’4″, but he isn’t overpowering. He’s a guy that will sit in the low 90’s and will have to use location and his changeup to get hitters out.

Tropeano also has a splitter and has both a 12-6 and a 9-3 shape to his breaking ball as well. The first :20 seconds of the following video shows you his changeup and splitter, and at :20 seconds you see his 12/6 breaking ball followed by his 9/3 breaking ball.

So being a pitcher with 4 pitches, but not being overpowering makes it tough to pitch in relief. Why? Because, since Tropeano is not overpowering he needs to get to his secondary pitches early and often. But, many times relief pitchers don’t have time to settle into their secondary pitches. So his stuff makes him a tweener. Because he has to rely on secondary stuff so much to get outs he needs to be a starter. But his stuff isn’t dominant enough to declare him one of your 4 or 5 best starters.

So long relief in bullpen games is what I think he’s suited for, with some spot duty in other roles as well.  Basically, a right-handed version of David Price‘s role this year with LA is what I see in his future with the Dodgers. So, while no one is exactly sure what Tropeano’s specific role is going to be with the Dodgers, one thing we do know is that he will never quit.

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