After becoming a huge weapon for the Dodgers out of the bullpen in 2020, Victor Gonzalez struggled to build off a solid rookie campaign this season. The Dodgers were hoping he’d solidify himself as the top left-handed option out of the pen. Instead, he spent the final month of the season in the minors and was left off the postseason roster.
Gonzalez actually got off to a pretty solid start in 2021, as he was one of LA’s best options out of the bullpen through the middle of June. Over his first 28 games, Gonzalez owned a 1.99 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 22 2⁄3 innings of action. There was a little cause for concern though, as his walk rate increased drastically.
In 20 innings during his rookie season, Gonzalez issued only two walks. In 22.2 innings in 2021, he had already issued nine.
His struggles began right around the crackdown of the sticky stuff. Over his final 16 games, Gonzalez posted a 6.39 ERA and 5.93 FIP. In 12.2 innings of action he struck out 12 and issued 10 walks. On the season, he allowed 19 walks in only 35 innings.
Per Baseball Savant, you can see a huge decrease in his spin rate in his slider and sinker as the season progressed.
He missed two weeks in August after being placed on the injured list. Gonzalez pitched in two games following his activation, but was optioned to Triple-A on August 25. He spent the final month of the season with OKC.
In 12 games in AAA, Gonzalez posted a 3.72 ERA. In 9 2⁄3 innings of work he struck out 15 and only issued two walks, which was certainly an encouraging sign after struggling with command with LA.
After appearing in eight games for LA in the 2020 postseason, Gonzalez was left off the postseason roster this year.
Stats: 3-1, 3.57 ERA, 44 games, 35 1⁄3 IP, 33 K, 19 BB, 116 ERA+, 4.27 FIP, 1.44 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR
Game of the year
On May 20, Gonzalez came out of the bullpen with two runners on base and two outs. With the game tied at two, he struck out Domingo Leyba to end the inning. Gonzalez went back out there for the seventh, striking out two hitters and needing only 11 pitches to retire the side.
Gonzalez has 1.103 years of service time. He’s eligible for arbitration in 2024.