Dodgers: Victor Gonzalez a dark horse in the Dodgers’ bullpen competition

mwittman
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA - AUGUST 18: General view of The Epicenter during the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes game against the Lake Elsinore Storm on August 18, 1994 in Rancho Cucamonga, California. (Photo by J.D. Cuban/Getty Images)
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA - AUGUST 18: General view of The Epicenter during the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes game against the Lake Elsinore Storm on August 18, 1994 in Rancho Cucamonga, California. (Photo by J.D. Cuban/Getty Images) /
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The Dodgers are a lock to make the postseason this year but their playoff roster remains wide open. Victor Gonzalez is one wildcard to make LA’s postseason roster.

Entering Monday, the Dodgers have the best record in baseball and are a virtual lock for the postseason.  Despite being the best team in baseball, the potential playoff roster for the club remains wide open.  The bullpen, in particular, remains a wide-open competition that will rage on for the last two months of the season.

One dark horse candidate to make the Dodgers’ postseason bullpen is southpaw Victor Gonzalez.  Gonzalez was signed back in 2012 at the age of 16 at the same time that the blue signed Julio Urias and Yasiel Puig.  Legendary Dodger scout Mike Brito, who was responsible for finding Fernando Valenzuela, was the scout who also brought in Urias and Gonzalez.

This season, after years of injuries and multiple seasons of rookie ball and low single-A, Victor Gonzalez has managed to work his way through time with the Quakes, Drillers, and now the OKC Dodgers.  Victor has made thirteen starts this season between single-A and double-A, but since arriving in triple-A, he has worked solely as a reliever.

Stricly as a reliever, Victor Gonzalez’s stats are eye-popping.  In eleven innings of relief with the Tulsa Drillers, Gonzalez had a 0.82 ERA while allowing an average of .167.  In Rancho Cucamonga, Victor allowed no runs in ten innings while sporting an opponent’s average of .057.

Entering Sunday night’s game, Gonzalez has allowed just one base hit in three innings of relief.  He has caught the attention of Andrew Friedman who recently named Victor Gonzalez as a surprise candidate to make the Dodgers’ bullpen and said this about him:

"Friedman said one other minor leaguer, Victor Gonzalez, could pitch his way into the postseason bullpen. A 23-year-old left-hander, Gonzalez has been dominant since recently moving to the bullpen. Featuring a fastball that sits between 94 and 96 mph."

That is some pretty high praise to catch the attention of Andrew Friedman.  It’s not surprising though as Gonzalez has really put it together as a reliever and has three offerings.  Along with his mid 90s fastball, Victor Gonzalez throws a very good changeup and a slider.  While he didn’t come with the hype that Urias did, he has very good stuff.

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Against left-handed hitters, Victor has been dominant this season, even as a starting pitcher.  With the Quakes, Gonzalez held left-handed batters to a .148 average and with the Drillers he limited them to a .125 average.  In OKC, lefties are hitting .250 against him but that is in a very small sample size as he was recently promoted to AAA.

The Dodgers did add a lefty specialist at the trade deadline in Adam Kolarek but there is still plenty of uncertainty with their pitching staff. Julio Urias could shift back into a starting role if Rich Hill is unable to make it back by mid-September.  Hill could also find himself in a relief role but first, he has to prove he is healthy and ready to return.

Outside of Urias, Hill, and Kolarek, there are plenty of opportunities for another left-handed reliever to put themselves in the bullpen mix.   Scott Alexander remains sidelined with a nerve issue in his thumb and Tony Cingrani was injured and since dealt to St. Louis.

Next. The Dodgers' great trade deadline dilemma. dark

Victor Gonzalez may be a long shot to make the postseason bullpen but with all the open spots, he certainly has a chance.  It would be surprising if he isn’t given a shot in September with the rest of the call-ups.

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