Fast forward to October and that lefty the Dodgers acquired from the Marlins is their No. 1 left-handed option out of the bullpen, Alex Vesia.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Vesia. He had a stint with LA early in the season that went poorly. He struggled with command and just wasn’t ready to be a big-league pitcher. During his time in Oklahoma City, he worked on his pitches and completely turned his game around. Since being recalled by LA in July, he’s been one of the more dominant relievers in all of baseball.
“I’m thankful, you know what I mean?” Vesia said to the media on Tuesday. “It’s been a long season, for sure. To look back where I started and where I’m at now, I’m very proud to kind of see that progress.”
Coming from the Marlins, this is Vesia’s first career postseason. Although he’s a rookie, he makes sure that the lights don’t get too bright for him.
“I enjoy those moments because I know that all the hard work and everything that I’ve put in, it’s going to pay off,” he said. “I definitely feel like I’m in a good spot with my mechanics and everything like that. Mentally on the mound, I’m ready to go out there and do my thing.”
He certainly has been doing his thing for the Dodgers in October. In 3.1 innings he has six strikeouts with zero walks. Vesia allowed a home run in his first outing against the Giants, but has really settled down since then.
This postseason, the Dodgers have turned to Vesia in the biggest moments of the game. In Game 3 of the NLCS, LA brought him in with the bases loaded and two outs to face Freddie Freeman. He needed only one pitch to get the 2020 NL MVP out.
In Game 2 of the NLCS, he relieved Max Scherzer. With two on and one out, Vesia was able to escape the inning without allowing a run. Following the game, Scherzer was asked about Vesia coming in for that spot. He told reporters that Vesia was the right guy to come in to face the heart of the Braves lineup.
Not only did Vesia hear Scherzer give him such high praise, but his mom did as well.
“For him to say that, that was pretty cool,” Vesia said with a smile. “My mom sent that to me, and she was like, ‘I can’t believe that Max Scherzer is saying that about you.’ So that was cool.”
Vesia has the rare chance of being teammates with a number of future Hall-of-Famers, such as Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. He also has the likes of David Price, Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen, who have combined decades of experience in the league. Vesia makes sure that he soaks up as much advice as possible from those guys when given the chance.
“With all the great veteran guys that we have in the clubhouse, I’ve definitely picked everybody’s brain,” Vesia said. “I talk with David Price a lot. He’s definitely my go-to guy on certain things. But then also like Blake Treinen, Kenley Jansen, I’ve asked them about how to deal with success, how to deal with failure, kind of just sticking on my routine.”
Price is the one that has really helped Vesia grow as a pitcher this season. Vesia said he loves his conversations with Price and that he’s always going to be real with him.
“He’s not going to sugarcoat anything and I like that,” he said. “I don’t want someone to sugarcoat anything because I feel like the truth is what I need. I don’t need anything else.”
Vesia said that Price tells the rookie to keep being himself. It’s a long season, there will be a lot of ups and downs, highs and lows, and he reminds him to stay even with himself.
“I’ve said that a couple times and I kind of like that expression because that’s the truth,” Vesia said. “You go and get a big out, right, the night before, well the next day it’s and you can’t live in the past. It’s a new day, it’s a new game and so like that’s something that I’ve tried to tell myself. When I go out and play catch and stuff like that, it’s focused on the game at hand.”
Watching the transformation from Vesia this season has been sensational. He went from being a guy who couldn’t even find the strike zone against the opposing pitcher to the Dodgers’ most dominant left-handed option out of the bullpen in October.