Although he began the 2021 season in Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers, Justin Bruihl turned into one of the more reliable left-handed options in the Dodgers’ bullpen near the end of the season.
After playing at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Bruihl wasn’t drafted in 2017. He was signed to a minor-league contract by the Dodgers and slowly worked his way up the Dodgers’ farm system. He began 2021 with Tulsa, where he posted an ERA of 1.20 in eight games. After a strong start to his season, he was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City in June.
The 24-year-old appeared in 18 games, posting a 3.57 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. With a lack of lefties in the Dodgers’ bullpen, Bruihl was called up by LA on August 8.
Through his first 14 games, the rookie posted a 1.29 ERA while holding opponents to a .159 average. He faced both righties and lefties almost an even amount, but his bread and butter came against left-handed hitters. Lefties hit .150 with an OPS of .359 against Bruihl for the season.
He was left off the NLDS roster, but Bruihl was added to the NLCS roster against the Braves. The rookie was lights out, tossing two scoreless innings with five strikeouts. Bruihl wasn’t much of a strikeout pitcher during the regular season, but he got tons of swing and misses during the Atlanta series.
Game of the year
When you’re a reliever who doesn’t really pitch in too many high leverage situations, it’s difficult to pinpoint a game of the year. I’ll throw his postseason outings together, because he really came up in the clutch in his two innings of work. As I mentioned earlier, he recorded five of his six outs via the strikeout.
Stats: 0-1, 2.89 ERA, 18 2⁄3 IP, 11 SO, 7 BB, 3.97 FIP, 1.07 WHIP, 144 ERA+, 0.3 bWAR, 0.1 fWAR
Bruihl is under contract for a while, as he’s not even arbitration eligible yet.