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Daily Dodger in review: the inexplicable season of left-hander George Sherrill

November 25, 2010 |  8:12 am

GEORGE SHERRILL, 33, reliever

Final 2010 stats: 2-2, 6.69 ERA, no saves, 25 strikeouts, 24 walks, 1.93 WHIP in 36 1/3 innings.

Contract status: Arbitration eligible.

The good: Left-handed hitters batted just .192 against him, with only five extra-base hits in 73 at-bats. Appeared in a team-high 65 games. When he had at least one day's rest before appearances, fashioned a 2.84 ERA. Clubhouse crossword puzzle champ. Walked in his first career at-bat.

The bad: Just about everything else. He was a mess from the first moment of spring training, when he tried to tell us he typically had poor springs. Right-handed batters hit .427 against him, and unfortunately he pitched against slightly more right-handers.

Allowed a stunning 11.4 hits per nine innings. And he couldn’t strike anyone out. Struck out only 6.2 hitters per nine innings. In a stretch from late May to early July, went through a 21-game stretch when he struck out only two batters.

He allowed only one home run at Dodger Stadium all season, but it was memorable. Almost forgotten in Jonathan Broxton’s memorable ninth-inning meltdown against the Yankees June 27, was Sherrill giving up the game-winning home run in the 10th to the left-handed hitting Robinson Cano.

What’s next: Since he made $4.5 million last season and it was a mega-disaster, there’s no way the Dodgers offer him arbitration by the Dec. 2 deadline. He’ll become a free agent and somebody will certainly sign him, but at a serious pay cut; maybe even to a minor-league deal.

The take: When the Dodgers picked Sherrill up from the Orioles, he arrived with 20 saves and quickly became their left-handed specialist. He excelled beyond expectations, fashioning a 0.65 ERA in 2009.

No one realistically figured he’d keep that up in 2010, but no one saw such a precipitous drop-off either. His turnaround was so stunning as to be unexplainable, not that there wasn’t a litany of excuses -- he had a mechanical problem, he was burned out from being heavily used the previous season, he was injured, he was misused out of the bullpen. I, of course, was partial to the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" theory.

He wasn’t throwing as hard. His pitches often looked flat. His confidence, understandably, was shaken. There is something, however, to the theory that Joe Torre too frequently put him in the wrong kind of situations. He faced 95 right-handed hitters on the season, to 85 left-handed hitters.

And since he was still very effective against left-handers, it’s a disturbing stat. It's also why someone is certainly going to give him an opportunity next season.

The chances that that team is the Dodgers is minuscule, but still there. Assuming Don Mattingly is willing to use him as a middle-inning, left-handed specialist. Left-handed relievers have a life span just shy of the giant tortoise, so he’ll reemerge somewhere, pod and all.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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