Alex Vesia had a roller coaster 2023 season, bouncing between Triple-A and the big leagues in the first half before finishing the season on a high note.
Vesia was one of the more reliable relievers for the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2022, posting a perfect 5-0 record across 54⅓ innings in 63 games, registering a 2.12 FIP, 1.123 WHIP, and an impressive 188 ERA+.
Vesia started out spring training strong, tossing three shutout innings in his first three spring appearances. Vesia quickly ran into trouble, allowing two home runs while recording two outs in a loss to the Chicago Cubs on March 11. He continued to struggle through the end, allowing an additional three earned runs in 2⅓ innings, bringing his spring training ERA to 7.50.
Vesia’s shortcomings from spring training persisted during the beginning of the season. In his first relief appearance of the season, he allowed a two-run home run to Kyle Lewis, earning a loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 2-1 defeat.
Vesia’s April didn’t fare any better, as he would allow seven earned runs on 19 hits in 8⅔ innings. His ERA at month’s end was a woeful 8.68, and after tossing one shutout inning on May 2 against the Philadelphia Phillies, he was sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Things began horribly for Vesia in his first minor league stint since 2021. He recorded just a single out while allowing five earned runs on four hits, including two home runs, taking the loss against the El Paso Chihuahuas. Vesia quickly rebounded from his poor performance and proceeded to toss 9⅓ shutout innings, striking out 18 hitters and walking five.
Vesia was recalled to the major leagues on May 30, where his early season struggles continued. He managed to repeat his beginning to spring training in his first three appearances in June, but quickly reverted back to his April form. Vesia earned two consecutive losses against the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants respectively, spoiling Emmet Sheehan’s magnificent debut in the latter game. He allowed another two earned runs in an 1⅓⅓ innings before being sent down to the minor leagues for a second time.
Although he was originally sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma City, he was then demoted to the ACL Dodgers, but was quickly brought back up to Triple-A after just four days. Vesia dominated in his second stint in the minor leagues, tossing 2⅔ shutout innings while striking out four and allowing zero hitters to work a base on balls.
Vesia returned to the big league club on July 6, and would remain with the team for the rest of the season.
When he began the month of July, Vesia carried a 7.58 ERA across 19 innings. He turned around what was appearing to be a lost season, allowing only two runs in 10 innings while striking out 15 and walking just one single hitter.
After the All-Star break, Vesia posted a 2.54 ERA in 28⅓ innings, with 30 strikeouts against only five walks. Hitters slahsed just .168/.215/.307, compared to 361/.436/.526 before the break.
In the postseason, Vesia tossed two innings across Games 1 and 3, allowing a solo home run to Tommy Pham in the series opener and shutting out Arizona in the final game of the series.
Stats: 2-5, 4.35 ERA, 3.66 xERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.389 WHIP, 49⅔ IP, 64 K, 16 BB
Game of the year
Vesia came in for a save opportunity in his return to the Dodgers on July 6 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, his first chance since his first game of the season against Arizona. With the Dodgers already up 5-2, Vesia shut down the door in his lone inning, tossing the 13th strikeout Dodgers pitching combined for against Pittsburgh, and securing Vesia his third career save.
Vesia has three years, 78 days of service time and is currently eligible for arbitration for the first time. Cots’s Baseball Contracts projects Vesia to make $1.5 million in 2024, while MLB Trade Rumors proejcts $1.2 million.