Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Credits Alex Vesia, Phil Bickford
Alex Vesia
Rick Scuteri/AP Photo

The Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen has changed a lot recently, mostly due to roster turnover and injuries, but thankfully for manager Dave Roberts, two unexpected relievers have emerged as key pieces in Phil Bickford and Alex Vesia.

Vesia was acquired from the Miami Marlins during the offseason, along with Minor Leaguer Kyle Hurt, in exchange for Dylan Floro.

Early in Vesia’s career with the Dodgers, the trade was looking like a poor decision as he posted an ERA near five through his first 12.2 innings pitched. However, as he has settled in with his new club, something has clicked for Vesia and he has become one of their go-to relievers out of the pen.

“I don’t know specifically, but I just think it’s his third go at this as far as going up and down. I think he’s just comfortable,” Roberts said about Vesia looking more confident on the mound.

“There’s always that transition, getting to know your teammates and surroundings, and I think he’s just very comfortable and confident right now. He’s working really hard, focused, and the pitching guys and catchers have done a fantastic job with him.”

In his last 17 innings, Vesia has a 0.53 ERA to go along with 22 strikeouts while only allowing five hits and issuing three walks. The sample size isn’t he largest, but Vesia has shown the kind of stuff and strikeout potential that made him so intriguing to the Dodgers.

By the end of July, Roberts was calling on him as the primary left-hander out of the bullpen, which included a streak of three consecutive games pitched from July 29-31. From there, Vesia didn’t pitch again until Aug. 7, but Roberts still considered him to be one of his high-leverage relievers during that time.

“I think it was that and a little bit of the right lanes for him. It didn’t mean anything at all as far as what we feel with him and the confidence we have,” Roberts explained. “Sometimes with the off days and that’s how baseball is. I certainly look at him as a leverage guy. He’s earned that.”

Dodgers have gem in Bickford

On May 3, the Dodgers acquired Bickford off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers.

In his career up to that point, he allowed a combined six runs on six hits in two innings before getting designated for assignment. When the Dodgers claimed Bickford, it seemed like the move was just to give them some extra depth, but he has been far from that.

“I knew nothing about him,” Roberts said when asked what he knew of Bickford before the team acquired him. “He has been one of the biggest joys of the season.

“He’s been a Dodger fan, he’s very grateful, he’s a hard worker, he’s got that edge. He’s a sweetheart of a guy, but when he takes the baseball, he’s a savage. Guys love him. He’s one of those guys that I don’t know where we would be without him.”

This season with the Dodgers, Bickford has become someone Roberts can rely on to get outs in the late innings. So far, he has thrown 34.2 innings with a 2.08 ERA and 2.72 FIP while striking out 42.

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