Another French Canadian Reliever For The Dodgers?

Last week DC discussed a Dodger reliever from every level in the organization.  Every reliever on that list has the potential to be at least a MLB middle reliever.  Some may become high leverage relievers.  Zach Pop was certainly drafted last year for just that reason.  One other that I started to follow last year in the DSL was Elio Serrano, who could be special.  But at 19 he has a ways to go. Broussard, Copping, Gonsolin, Scrubb, and Hoyt will all have their moments this year, and one or two could be coming out of the LF bullpen this year at Dodger Stadium.

Pre Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers have had some tremendous relief pitchers that were dominant.  Two went on to win the NL Cy Young award.  One of those was a French Canadian who most Dodger fans refer to as Game Over…Eric Gagne.  My wife’s three favorite Dodgers were Ron Cey, Mike Piazza, and Eric Gagne.  We moved to Northern California in 2002, and we made multiple trips back down to LA just so she could go to Dodger Stadium and wait for “Welcome to the Jungle” to come blaring out of the speakers.

But this post is about another much less heralded and mostly unknown French Canadian pitcher.  On November 29, 2017, the Dodgers signed soon to be 25 year old RHRP Jesen Dygestile-Therrien to a 2 year contract.  The contract is for two years because Therrien will not pitch this year as he is recovering from TJ surgery.  And while the 2018 season has not yet started, I am very much looking forward to the Spring of 2019 to get a chance to watch this young man pitch.

Despite the 17 year age difference, both Therrien and Gagne were teammates on the 2017 Canadian WBC team.  But their relationship pre-dated the 2017 WBC Tournament. “He’s really been a mentor for me,” the 24-year-old Montreal native said. “After all of my outings, he’ll call me or text me telling me what I did wrong, what I did good.”  “He keeps it really simple,” Therrien said. “I’m an aggressive pitcher. That’s the way he used to be. They used to call him ‘Game over,’ because he was good but also because he was a strike thrower. I believe I am the same thing.”

“The goal is to get Jesen ready for the 2019 season. We’re really excited about what he’s capable of doing,” said new Dodgers director of player development Brandon Gomes. “Now it’s just focusing on getting him as healthy and as strong as possible.”

So what has he done to get my attention?  The Phillies and Red Sox are two other organizations I follow minor leaguers with for personal reasons, and Jesen (former Phillie prospect) caught my eye.  Therrien posted a 1.41 in 39 minor league relief appearances in 2017, splitting time between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He struck out 65 and walked only nine in 57 innings, his walk rate improving from 11.3% in 2016 to 4.2% last year.  In the last three seasons combined, Therrien in the minors posted a 1.79 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 53 walks in 176 innings, a 27.5% strikeout rate.

After jumping onto the radar of the Phillies former Manager, Pete Mackanin, in the Spring of 2017, Therrien made his ML debut on July 29, 2017.  “We loved him in spring. I loved his breaking ball,” Mackanin said. “We really got excited about his breaking ball. He has a really nasty breaking ball. It’s good to see. … He’s on the map for me based on what I saw in the spring. He came in, and threw strikes with a really good looking breaking ball. Especially out of the bullpen, if you have a really good breaking ball and you can command it, that’s half the battle.”

One other positive note that caught the Dodger player development staff’s attention is that Therrien has been a ground ball pitcher for the bulk of his career, inducing a 48.5% ground ball rate in the majors in 2017 and a 52.5% rate from 2015-17 in the minors.

Therrien had TJ surgery in September and elected free agency.  He then signed with the Dodgers.  The 2018 season is definitely out.  He has previously been a participant in the AFL, and maybe he will get another look this year.  Maybe it is because Larry Sherry was my first Dodger hero, but relievers have always been my favorites.  Perranoski, Brewer, Regan, Mikkelson, Hough, Marshall, Howe, Howell, Worrell, Gagne, and Jansen.  I have been to Florida spring training multiple times, but never to Arizona.  I will be going next year, and Jesen Therrien is one of the reasons.  It’s unlikely that he can be a repeat of his mentor, Gagne, but in the Phillies organization he was favorably compared to Brad Lidge.  That’s not a bad comparison at all.

Posted by Always Compete

This article has 23 Comments

  1. wow, nice piece. he is officially on my radar. I must admit, watching gagne’s ridiculous plus/plus/plus combinational patterns to major hitters is a top #3 all-time dodger highlight. he would look into loduca and throw a fastball, changeup, or curveball. sometimes he would throw three changes in a row. if the first pitch was a change for a strike looking, the batter was likely toast the rest of the at-bat. then gagne started getting crazy and throwing all three curveballs or change/change/curve. it really wasn’t fair. imagine walking to home plate and not knowing if you were going to see a high 90s fastball, a off-the-charts changeup [one of the best ever], or a curveball that was probably at least 20 mph slower than the fastball. batters had no change. I would laugh watching him close out a game. good times

    1. It’s because of posts like this that AC and DC make the really big bucks for writing on this blog…

  2. Nice article AC.

    Being Canadian I naturally am interested in Zach Pop and Therrien. I certainly appreciated Eric Gagne but I think my all-time favorite reliever was Clem Labine back in the fifties. He could start, relieve for multiple innings, close out a game before saves were a thing. I would listen to Vin announcing the game and when a starter got into some trouble I would wait to see if it was Jim Hughes or Clem Labine who would come in to put out the fire. With the Dodgers offense , if they could stop the bleeding, there was a good chance to still win. Very often they did just that.

    Terrien looks like he might be one of those FAZ picks that don’t look big at the time but turn out be good ones. They must place more than a bit of value on him to sign him for two years, one in which he will not pitch.

    1. I never got the chance to appreciate Clem Labine. My first real recollection of following the Dodgers was 1959. I know I went to a game in 1958. I do not remember against who or who won, but I was told by friends whose parents took me that I had a good time.

      1. Same here. My dad took me to the Coliseum in ’58 and I started following the team in ’59. Larry Sherry was a favorite, as was Ron Perranoski. Mr. Perranoski would come into the nightclub where I was bartending (Tennessee Gin & Cotton) in Tarzana after home games and have himself a scotch or two. Very nice, quiet man. Steve Yeager, on the other hand, was a real piece of work, always referring to Lasorda as a fat Italian so and so.

  3. Wilmer Font is headed to the waiver wire. He had a great opportunity and simply did not seize the day. Too bad!

    Striker Buehler looked good enough to make the team, but I doubt that he does unless someone gets injured.

    1. fair assessment. kemp the surprise of the spring. farmer making a case too. mebbe venditte?

  4. Dodger Chatter – You mentioning Clem Labine got me to reminiscing about Eddie Roebuck.. Now if I only if I could have seem throwing to Campy!!!

    1. Peter – to me Campy was the greatest catcher in Dodger history. I know Mike Piazza was the most notable hitter but had a much longer career. Campy was cut short on both the front end and back end of his career. Three time MVP. I know there were a lot of wonderful players on those fifties Dodgers teams but I think Campy was the heart of the team. Jackie and Pee Wee were important in that regard but I think Campy was the man.

  5. AC

    Another great job!

    I just read that Roberts said that Kemp is not a platoon player, and I am not surprised, because he hits both lefties and righties.

    Kemp is just a better hitter, then both Joc and Toles, at this point, in their careers, and that is the only reason I thought Kemp, was best for the team, right now.

  6. Not trying to get off subject, but I read in the Times today that they were talking about FAZ dragging their feet about extending Doc with a new contract. After reading Colletti’s Big Chair book, is this normal procedure for a front office, meaning they mean to sign Doc anyway, but have a certain deadline they have to go by, or are they letting him flail away in the breeze? Colletti’s book really opened my eyes to the inner workings of the front office, so is this a smoke screen or what?

    1. I think Doc has to win this year…

      I mean, this is a damn good team.

      Just win it all, Baby!

  7. While Clem Labine is usually remembered as a relief pitcher, In the 1951 NL playoff he pitched a complete game shutout! I have heard he was supposed to come in to face Bobby Thompson instead of Ralph Branca in the game where Thompson hit “the shot heard round the world”.

    1. I read that Carl Erskine was to come in but in his warm up he bent off some curves in the dirt. Rube Walker was catching, not Campy, and it was felt Walker might not be able to handle a pitch in the dirt so Ralph Branca came in.

      “I always thought Clem would’ve had a great career as a starting pitcher,” said Erskine. “But he told me ‘I don’t want to start. I liked the pressure of coming into the game with everything on the line. I could also do it more often as a reliever.’”

  8. Which of these is not like the other? Venditte, Farmer, Utley.
    =
    Hint– Venditte and Farmer have had great ST and deserve serious consideration to stay with the big club. They can’t do much more to show they belong, but is there room for them? In my opinion there should be. Utley has shown that he probably can’t hit major league pitching anymore and should be gracefully put out to pasture… but he will probably make the roster.

  9. Hey AC,

    What can you tell me about these prospective “sleeper” prospects in the system:
    `
    Chris Mathewson
    Wills Mongtomerie
    Rylan Bannon
    Donovan Casey
    `
    From what I’ve read, Casey’s debut was really eye opening after showing very little pop at BC.

    1. It will probably be on Saturday after my 5K, but I will get back to you on all of these guys. They are worth following this year.

  10. Before heading out for what will be my last snowmobile ride of the season a few thoughts.
    Looks like Font didn’t step up and will not pitch for the Dodgers.
    Buehler is stepping up and will be pitching for the Dodgers at some point this season.
    Looking back at last season one last time before 2018 starts I still can’t decide which gave me more pleasure, the Dodgers going to the WS or the giants tied for the worst record in baseball. Let’s hope this season brings the same for both teams, who are deserving of their records.

Comments are closed.