The Los Angeles Dodgers unexpectedly ended up trading for Brusdar Graterol last year and he emerged as a key contributor out of the bullpen en route to the team winning the 2020 World Series.
Graterol has yet to fully replicate that success this season, however, as he was late to build up in Spring Training and began the campaign on the 10-day injured list. Graterol then suffered from right forearm tightness after appearing in just three games.
A lengthy IL stint ended in June with the Dodgers activating Graterol but immediately optioning him to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Manager Dave Roberts explained the purpose was to allow the right-hander to continue refining his pitch mix and delivery.
The 22-year-old is in his fourth stint with the team this season and on Saturday had one of his finest moments yet.
With two on and two outs in the eighth inning, the Angels sent Shohei Ohtani to the plate as a pinch-hitter. The Dodgers took the bat out of his hands the night prior with an intentional walk, which Roberts considered again.
“To potentially walk the bases loaded — which I have done before — but with Brusdar’s stuff, ball getting by the catcher, potential walk, I just felt if we pitch him carefully, we had a chance to get him,” Roberts explained.
Graterol started Ohtani with a slider for for the first strike. He later threw another for strike and finished the at-bat with a 101.5 mph sinker to get Ohtani swinging. The Dodgers went on to take a decided lead on Chris Taylor’s two-run double in the bottom half of the inning.
Turner pivotal for Graterol
Saturday’s appearance was Graterol’s sixth scoreless effort in his past seven games. Some of the turnaround from his early-season struggles can be traced to Justin Turner identifying a needed adjustment that the Dodgers pitching coaches then built on.
“J.T., ironically enough, is the one who brought it to light initially about slowing Brusdar down,” Roberts revealed. “Those guys running with it, slowing his delivery down, has allowed for him to execute the two-seamer as well as the slider.
“I think going forward if we can keep that delivery intact, then we’re going to see the best of Brusdar. … He’s just been so quick to the plate, and Justin is such a student of the game, he noticed how quick Brusdar is. Just feeling that if he can slow down, it might make it even harder on hitters.
“It’s kind of counterintuitive, but with a slower delivery it gives him a better chance to get hitters out. Then you take the pitching guys to use that information and dig in on the delivery, so it’s been kind of a tag team.”
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