Brusdar Graterol allowed a pair of runs on Thursday for Oklahoma City, three weeks after the Dodgers right-hander was optioned to Triple-A. He’s allowed seven runs in 9⅓ innings for Oklahoma City, with 10 strikeouts and three walks, and figures to remain in the minors for at least a little while longer.
“I think Brusdar has pitched probably a grand total of 17 Triple-A innings [editor’s note: counting his time with the Twins organization, Graterol has pitched 14⅔ innings in Triple-A]. He’s not a finished product,” manager Dave Roberts told reporters Friday.
Acquired from the Twins as part of the three-team trade with the Red Sox that saw Mookie Betts and David Price come to Los Angeles, Graterol pitched his way into a relatively prominent role in the Dodgers bullpen in 2020, putting up a 3.09 ERA and 3.41 FIP in 23⅓ innings. In the postseason the right-hander posted a 3.52 ERA 2.52 FIP, and even picked up a save in the wild card round.
He also very rarely missed bats, despite a two-seam fastball that averaged 99.3 mph. Among the 323 major league pitchers last year with at least 20 innings, Graterol’s 14.8-percent strikeout rate ranked 300th.
“Last year he came on the radar and impacted our ballclub in a lot of ways,” Roberts said. “As far as pitch development, working on the slider versus left, to have something to combat to equalize the left-handed hitter. Keeping the sinker, the two-seamer down at the bottom of the zone to go along with the slider, to get swing-and-miss, soft contact, to tighten that up, execute that consistently, those are the kind of things we want to see from Brusdar.”
This year has been another story for Graterol. Limited in spring training after not throwing much at all during the offseason, Graterol started the season on the injured list for undisclosed reasons, then later missed five weeks with forearm tightness.
Once Graterol’s rehab assignment was up, rather than getting activated, the Dodgers optioned him to Triple-A instead. Since then, the Dodgers have called up relievers Mitch White, Garrett Cleavinger, and Edwin Uceta. Those three have combined to pitch six times in the majors in that span, with these relative scores when they entered the game: ahead seven runs, ahead 11, ahead nine, ahead six, ahead seven, and down four.
The Dodgers have bigger, higher-leverage plans for Graterol. Once they deem him ready, anyway.
When Graterol was optioned, Roberts used the term “finishing school” to describe the maturation of a pitcher who is still just 22 years old. Roberts used the term again on Friday.
“I’m sure, like all minor league players, he wants to be back in the big leagues,” Roberts said. “Once he does get back here, we want him to stick.”