Justin Bruihl was among the 39 players to pitch in a game for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year and arguably had the most unique journey of anyone from the group.
The left-hander was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and prior to this year, had never pitched above High-A. He began his campaign at Double-A Tulsa before earning a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City in June, going a combined 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA and 50 strikeouts over 26 games.
Bruihl received his first big league promotion on Aug. 8 as the corresponding move to Garrett Cleavinger being placed on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain.
The 24-year-old made his MLB debut against the L.A. Angels that same day and tossed 1.2 scoreless innings. Bruihl was the 32nd pitcher used by the Dodgers, which set a new franchise record.
From that point on Bruihl emerged as a key reliever for the team. In 21 regular season games, he went 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA, 3.97 FIP and 1.07 WHIP in 18.2 innings of work. The 24-year-old also tossed two scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series.
While it can be overwhelming to make the jump from Double-A to the Majors in one season, Bruihl felt he was prepared for the possibility. “It definitely was a little bit shocking,” he said last August.
“I wouldn’t say I didn’t expect it, because this was my goal to start the year,” Bruihl said. “I wanted to make it to the big leagues this year. A little bit surprising, but at the same time I felt like I was ready for it.”
Bruihl’s 2021 highlight
From his MLB debut on Aug. 8 through Sept. 12, Bruihl tossed scoreless outings in 13 of his first 14 appearances. He posted a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings pitched and collected nine strikeouts against six walks during the span.
Bruihl remains under team control and figures to compete for a spot in the Dodgers’ Opening Day bullpen during Spring Training.
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date on all Dodgers news and rumors!