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Dodgers sign J.P. Howell

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LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced the signing of left-handed reliever J.P. Howell to a two-year contract plus a vesting third-year option. General Manager Ned Colletti made the announcement.

"J.P. proved to be a very valuable pitcher us," said Colletti. "Not only did he help us achieve success, but his demeanor and competitiveness were real positives in the clubhouse."

In his first year with the Dodgers in 2013, Howell, 30, posted career-best marks with a 2.03 ERA, a .193 opponents' batting average and a 1.05 WHIP, going 4-1 in 67 relief appearances. Last season, he allowed just two home runs in 62.0 innings and ranked among the NL relief leaders in ERA (7th), opponents' batting average (9th) and WHIP (16th). Howell was especially tough against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .164 batting average (18-for-110), a .225 on-base percentage and a .227 slugging percentage.

The eight-year Major League veteran has a 25-24 career record with a 4.10 ERA in 334 games (33 starts) with Kansas City (2005), Tampa Bay (2006-12) and Los Angeles (2013). In his career, he's averaged 8.3 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and allowed just 43 of 181 inherited runners to score (23.8%).

Howell has appeared in 20 postseason games in his career, posting a 2.50 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 18.0 innings, and also made three scoreless appearances (3.1 IP) for Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In the 2013 postseason with the Dodgers, he allowed just one run in 6.0 innings (seven games) while striking out six.   

Since 2008, Howell ranks 10th in the Major Leagues (min. 250 games) with a .206 opponents' batting average and places 21st during that time with a 2.86 ERA. The Modesto, CA native has averaged just under a strikeout per inning in that span with 293 strikeouts and only 135 walks in 299.0 innings.

Howell was originally selected by Kansas City in the first round (31st overall) of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and signed by current Dodger scout Chet Sergo. The Jesuit High School graduate (Carmichael, CA) originally attended the University of Southern California before transferring to the University of Texas. Howell and his wife, Heather, reside in St. Petersburg, FL.

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