When the Los Angeles Dodgers activated Joe Kelly off the injured list last week it coincided with Victor Gonzalez getting optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Gonzalez had just returned from the IL the week prior, missing time due to right knee inflammation. He previously was sidelined in July by left plantar fasciitis.
Last season, the 25-year-old southpaw was a big part of the Dodgers’ World Series run as he pitched to a 1.33 ERA and 1.67 FIP in 20.1 innings.
However, this season, Gonzalez has yet to find that version of himself, posting a 3.57 ERA and 4.28 FIP across 35.1 innings.
“Tough decision, obviously with what Victor means to us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of sending Gonzalez to Oklahoma City.
“I think the bottom line is he’s been dealing with an injury. He’s healthy from that, and getting him back off the IL, just want him to be consistent with his outing.
“Looking for consistency with the fastball and slider, hasn’t had the miss he had last year. I think for the most part, just getting him to Triple-A, take a breath for a week or two weeks, and kind of see where we’re at from there.”
The Dodgers took a similar approach with Brusdar Graterol earlier in the season when he was struggling. Despite being fully healthy once he was activated off the IL, the Dodgers sent Graterol to OKC to get extra work in before he rejoined the club.
If Gonzalez is able to get back to form, he would become an important piece in the bullpen and give the Dodgers two lock-down left-handers with him and Alex Vesia.
Gonzalez has appeared in two games for OKC since being optioned, allowing a combined two runs on three hits, including a homer, over 1.1 innings pitched.
Dodgers not expecting Cleavinger, Alexander soon
Another pair of left-handed relievers, Scott Alexander and Garrett Cleavinger, are not close to returning to the team, according to Roberts.
“I think both guys are a ways away,” he said of the two relievers.
Alexander was placed on the IL in July due to left shoulder inflammation, and Cleavinger has been out since Aug. 8 with a right oblique strain.
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