First things first. If you haven’t read this incredible article about Victor Gonzalez and how he nearly gave up on his MLB dream, I highly recommend you do so.
When the 2020 season began, I don’t think too many people were expecting Gonzalez to have arguably one of the biggest impacts out of the bullpen. He had never pitched at the big-league level, and wasn’t considered to be one of the top prospects in the system. However, he proved to be one of the most valuable arms during LA’s World Series run.
After spending six years in the Dodgers’ minor-league system, Gonzalez finally cracked through and made the Dodgers’ roster. He made his major-league debut on July 31, allowing one run in three innings of work. It was a rough first taste of the big-leagues, but he quickly settled down after that.
Over his final 14 games of the season, Gonzalez posted an ERA of 0.93 and held opponents to a .147 average. He struck out 22 and issued only two walks.
For Gonzalez, his bread and butter pitch was his slider. Per Baseball Savant, he threw it 35.9 percent of the time, and it was practically un-hittable. Opponents were 2-for-32 against it, and he recorded 18 of his 23 total strikeouts with it.
Granted, it was a very, very small sample size in 2020. But you can’t look at these percentile rankings and not get super excited.
Gonzalez became one of the more reliable options out of the bullpen during October, as he appeared in a total of eight games, including four games during the World Series. His ERA for October was 2.70, and his ERA during the World Series was 2.45.
At times, he looked like a seasoned veteran who had been through this multiple times. Hard to imagine he was only a rookie.
Stats: 3-0, 1.33 ERA, 20 1⁄3 IP, 23 SO, 0.74 WHIP, 1.67 FIP, 323 ERA+
Game of the year
His best outing of the year came in the Dodgers’ final game of the year. Trailing 1-0, Gonzalez entered the game in the fifth. He recorded four straight outs, including three strikeouts in a row to close his performance.
Gonzalez has 128 days of service time. He has two options remaining, but looks to be a crucial piece of the Dodgers’ bullpen moving forward.