When Brusdar Graterol came over in the trade with the Twins that sent Kenta Maeda to Minnesota, the Los Angeles Dodgers were believed to have gotten a future high-leverage reliever who could pump gas on the radar gun.
The only problem? The shortened 2020 season affected the young right-handers MLB trajectory.
Graterol, who is just 22 years old, has only pitched in 33 career games. He saw 10 in 2019 and 23 in 2020. He’s very much not built up or prepared for a full 162-game slate.
That explains his slow offseason and the fact he will not be on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster come April 1.
Graterol started throwing late this offseason and has yet to see action in any spring training game. He’s solely thrown bullpen sessions. He won’t see any action before camp is over, but manager Dave Roberts said he will face live hitters at some point.
This explains Roberts’ odd comments on the right-hander earlier this spring.
While this will no doubt deliver a blow to the bullpen, don’t forget the Dodgers have an arsenal of arms deserving of a roster spot who could make an impact immediately. Plus, this will help increase the usage for guys like Dustin May, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin, depending on the role Roberts sees for each of them.
The cautiousness surrounding Graterol shouldn’t come as a surprise, either. He’s only seen 5.1 innings at Triple-A and is still technically being transitioned into a relief role. He was a starter in the Twins’ farm system, logging 214 innings (51 games, 41 starts) from 2015-2019 (he pitched 11 innings in 2015 and missed all of 2016, too).
He has a somewhat concerning injury history already in his young career, which is why the Boston Red Sox reneged on the initial Mookie Betts trade (remember that?!). Graterol had Tommy John surgery in 2016 and dealt with shoulder issues in 2019. Fortunately, a competent organization like the Dodgers is equipped to deal with all of that.
They’ll put Graterol on the right path while giving other pitchers (Jimmy Nelson, Brandon Morrow, Alex Vesia, Garrett Cleavinger and others) an opportunity to fill the void and/or carve out a role for themselves.
There’s a reason this is the best organization in baseball for the better part of the last decade.