When the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Alex Vesia from the Miami Marlins in a trade for Dylan Floro during the offseason, the lefty was a little-known relief pitching prospect who was showing some promise in the Minor Leagues.
Vesia’s biggest strength was his ability to post high strikeout numbers while limiting walks. In May, when Vesia first made his Dodgers debut, he got off to a rough start as he walked 11 hitters and allowed nine runs in just 9.1 innings pitched.
He was not the player the Dodgers were expecting to see and he got sent back to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
On July 9, Vesia was recalled, and he has looked like a completely different pitcher. Since the recall, Vesia has thrown 17.1 innings while only allowing one run on five hits, and striking out 21 and walking four.
Manager Dave Roberts recently said Vesia has become one of his high-leverage options out of the Dodgers bullpen and they both credited success to newfound confidence on the mound as he becomes more comfortable at the Major League level.
“I feel really confident. I know I’ve put in the hard work and we’re seeing it when the time comes,” Vesia said. “Going down to Triple-A, got to clear my head. Coming back up, I was able to bring what I was doing in Triple-A.”
After being sent back to OKC, Vesia used his time to work on the details he and the coaching staff went over in Spring Training and getting his mind right.
“I just needed some time to get comfortable with it basically,” Vesia noted. “Nothing stood out. I think just clearing my head and building on good inning after good inning after good inning helps. Nothing too crazy. Just kind of building confidence one inning at a time.”
Vesia’s early-season walk problem and control issues was due to his timing being off, which is something he has been working on this season.
“During my outings there were specific things I was working on, and I could see it slowly but surely starting to come together,” Vesia explained. “I’d walk two guys in a row, and then I would punch a guy out, but then I would walk another guy. Just little flashes of it, and now it’s being able to fully pound the zone and command it the way I know how to.”
Now that he appears to have his control problems straightened out, Vesia should continue to pitch big innings out of the Dodgers bullpen and post the high strikeout numbers that have made him so successful.
“I think someone asked me about it in Spring Training and my answer was just I grip it and rip it,” Vesia said about why he is able to get so many strikeouts.
“When you’re in a rhythm, and Will or Barnesy puts down a sign, you have full conviction, it plays. So I think that kind of grip it and rip it mentality is what works for me.”
Vesia filled with emotion
Improved success on the mound has been accompanied by Vesia visibly pitching with plenty of confidence and emotion. That erupted Friday night when he got a strikeout to escape a bases-loaded jam and keep the Dodgers’ 3-2 lead in the eighth inning.
“I’m just being myself,” Vesia said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ve fully embraced being a Dodger. I think it brings out that emotion and my desire to do good and compete.”
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