The bullpen was a major reason why the Dodgers had a subpar June, in which they went 12-12 and were often in third in the NL West division. In July, the Dodger relievers tightened things up, posting a 3.33 team bullpen ERA as LA climbed back to the top of the NL West to enter the All-Star break.
One reliever who has stepped up his game has been Alex Vesia, who has been, at times, abysmal in late-game situations. In his first appearance in 2023, he blew a 1-0 Dodger lead in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. His April treated him no better, as the 27-year-old posted a 7.27 ERA for the month.
In May, Vesia was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City to, according to manager Dave Roberts, “catch his breath.”
Even in the minor leagues, Vesia’s debut went sour as he allowed five earned runs on four hits, two of which were home runs. Following his shaky start, Vesia vastly improved, throwing 18 strikeouts across 9.1 innings and only allowing a single run.
After being called back up to the big leagues, Vesia once again had a slow start, letting up two runs and three hits in 0.2 innings against the Washington Nationals. His June campaign was no Cy Young-worthy performance, with a 6.43 ERA for the month, but he did show signs of improvement. He had a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and allowed just one home run across eight games.
Finally, July is when Vesia seemed to come to life. Across 2.1 innings, the lefty allowed just one hit, no runs or walks and threw four strikeouts — recording a hold and a save along the way.
“Confidence,” Roberts said when asked about the biggest difference he’s seen in Vesia since he returned from Triple-A. “I think he’s being accountable to being better, being consistent. And when he gets sent down to try to have a clear idea of what he wants to work on and get better at and each time he’s come back better. So, hopefully he continues to throw the baseball with conviction, with confidence and we get these same results. … We put him in a tough spot (against Shohei Ohtani) and he got arguably the best hitter in baseball out. That was a big spot.”
(Via SportsNet LA)
The “big spot” Roberts is talking about happened when Tony Gonsolin left mid-inning against the Angels and Vesia stepped in and threw three-straight strikes to punch out one of the best hitters in today’s game, Shohei Ohtani.
With the Dodger bullpen looking to right the wrongs committed in the first half of the season, Alex Vesia could be a major part of a winning group of relievers.
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