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2023 Dodgers in review: Justin Bruihl

There was no offense, only Bruihl

Los Angeles Dodgers v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Justin Bruihl was one of the relievers that first appeared pell-mell at the conclusion of the 2021 regular season. For the past two seasons, Bruihl bounced back and forth between Triple-A Oklahoma City and Los Angeles. 2023 was no different.

Admittedly, as a child of the late 80s/early 90s, I refused to pass up an opportunity to reference the line from Ghostbusters “There is no Dana, only Zuul.” The hope was when Bruihl took the mound, there would be no offense, only Bruihl.

Bruihl did not start the year with the major league club as Alex Vesia and Caleb Ferguson filled out the left-handed contingent of the bullpen.

While at Oklahoma City, Bruihl appeared in 15 games with a 5-2 record, a 2.04 ERA, and 17 strikeouts over 17⅔ innings. With his arsenal of cutter/sinker/slider used in roughly equal measure, Bruihl was the textbook crafty lefty.

In 2023, with two exceptions, Bruihl did precisely what he was asked: pitch effectively in low to moderate-leverage situations and soak up innings while bouncing back and forth between Oklahoma City and Los Angeles.

It is notable that on May 9, after Noah Syndergaard’s finger injury, Bruihl was pressed into service during the early innings and did quite well, pitching 1⅔ IP with two strikeouts, earning his only decision of 2023.

Bruihl spent portions of April, May, June, and July with the major league club. He appeared in 20 games, usually pitching for at least an inning in every outing but one, for the Dodgers. Bruihl gave up one or fewer runs in every outing but four. Bruihl had 15 scoreless outings for the Dodgers in 2023.

Justin Bruihl. Tropicana Field. May 26, 2023.
Like me, Bruihl did not have fun in Tampa Bay. Tropicana Field. May 26, 2023.
Michael Elizondo / True Blue LA

Bruihl's two suboptimal outings, where he gave up exactly three runs, were on May 26th in a joyless, miserable opening game started by Noah Syndergaard against the Rays in Tampa and on his final Dodger outing on July 25 where he nearly coughed up a lead against the Blue Jays in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers ultimately optioned Bruihl the maximum five times allowed in a season before exposing the player to the waivers first. On July 28, the Dodgers designated Bruihl for assignment, and on August 1, in the great cash consideration swap of 2023, Bruihl ended up with the Colorado Rockies.

His first assignment with Colorado? Try to stop the Dodgers on August 11. It did not go well as Bruihl had his worst outing of the year, recording one out while giving up four runs (three earned). Two days later, on August 13, Bruihl was once again tasked with stopping the Dodgers. It went slightly better as he only gave up a single run in an inning of work while striking out two.

The rest of Bruihl’s tenure was relatively uneventful with five additional appearances on 2⅓ innings of work giving up two runs total. Bruihl passed through waivers on August 27 and elected free agency on November 6.

Whether Bruihl returns to the Dodgers is an open question. Until then, we can only wait to see if there will come another day when there is no offense, only Bruihl.

2023 particulars

Age: 26

Stats: 1-0, 4.07 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.315 WHIP, 24⅓ IP, 19 K, 8 BB with Dodgers

Salary: unknown

Game of the year

As previously mentioned, on May 9, Bruihl went 1⅔ innings with two strikeouts, earning his only decision of the year against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Roster status

Bruihl is currently a free agent.