3 young Dodgers who must step up in 2022 season
By Adam Weinrib
2. Brusdar Graterol
The Dodgers’ bullpen is unlike anything else we’re examining on this list because, even at its best, it could never be classified as a strength.
Still, LA pieced things together in 2020 behind Joe Kelly, Blake Treinen, Urías’ big move, Victor Gonzalez’s emergence and, of course, Kenley Jansen and Brusdar Graterol.
Entering 2022, Treinen will still be anchoring things, but 2021 lottery ticket Corey Knebel (otherwise known as Treinen Part II) has moved onto Philadelphia after bouncing back. Kelly finds himself without a contract, declined and loose in the atmosphere. Maybe Tommy Kahnle will be back, after signing a two-year deal with an empty first season? He’s certainly supposed to be. Most impactful, though, Jansen’s departure seems all but certain.
That leaves Treinen as the closer, and empties the eighth inning out for Graterol, who needs to stay healthy, miss bats, and harness his ridiculous 102 MPH fastball with movement to simply … be better than he was in 2021.
In the shortened 2020, Graterol burst onto the scene after the Boston Red Sox declined to acquire him in exchange for Mookie Betts. Their loss, as the man with the electric bowling ball breathed fire through the playoffs after posting a 3.09 regular season ERA. For some unknown reason, though, his electricity has never translated to whiffs; 13 in 23.1 innings became 27 in 33.1 innings in an injury-plagued 2021.
Graterol, of course, missed the start of the campaign with an elbow injury he was luckily able to shake off by the end of it. He was more “available” than excellent as the season wrapped, though, and his 4.59 small sample size ERA won’t cut it when more burden is placed on his shoulders in 2022.
Bottom line? Stuff this good shouldn’t come with so many caveats. Graterol has the big-game experience and fiery fastball necessary to take over a crucial role in this starting-from-scratch Dodgers bullpen. Now, he simply has to do it.