This unheralded Dodgers lefty could be key to postseason bullpen

Adam Weinrib
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 31: Alex Vesia #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 31, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 31: Alex Vesia #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 31, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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Much like Victor Gonzalez before him, it seems another Dodgers lefty is ready to introduce himself to America on the national stage this October.

Some may first have become acquainted with Alex Vesia last week, when his fire-breathing celebration while sending the Mets back to the dugout in the eighth went somewhat viral, and at least served as a preview of what fans can expect when this year’s edition of the Dodgers machine once again reaches the postseason.

But for those who missed it, Vesia’s scream and gyration probably wasn’t as indicative of his true talent level as his past month of sterling numbers.

And the Dodgers, always hurting for that bridge to Kenley Jansen, appear to have uncovered another stone.

Since he returned to the bigs in early July, as the Dodgers shuffled minor-league deck chairs in their bullpen yet again, Vesia has leveled up.

Once best known for being part of this team’s early-season bullpen-wide collapse, the lefty’s lowered his ERA from 5.40 to 2.48, allowing only a single hit in the month of August.

Dodgers lefty Alex Vesia could help remake the team’s playoff bullpen.

Vesia, still just 25 years old and mercifully maintaining his rookie status still (hold onto that, kids, we all get older), has been a revelation this season, now worth 0.5 WAR as a rarely-used specialist.

Compare his 2021 breakout post-promotion in July to his 2020 numbers with the Miami Marlins, and it’s clear something was finally unlocked within him after the latest slight he faced. Last season? Well, you can see why Miami lost faith; Vesia posted an 18.69 ERA in five empty-stadium games.

That’s “last man in the ‘pen on the worst team in the league” behavior. Now, he’s breathing fire and emerging as a back-end option for the team that’s had to rely on the bullpen more than any other contender in the second half, patching myriad rotation holes with Mitch White miracles and all-hands-on-deck nights several times a week.

Let’s see that fire one more time, huh?

Ahh. Looks good in the all blues.

Once (recently?) an afterthought, Vesia now appears to be the likeliest candidate to make a postseason leap this fall. Still without many historically trustworthy arms beyond Jansen, Blake Treinen, and Joe Kelly (?), the Dodgers could instead be prepared to ride the hot hand among Vesia, González, Phil Bickford, and the oft-injured Corey Knebel in the late innings.

Be prepared to see a good deal more of this type of screaming soon.

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