All Dodgers fans can ask of their players is for between 100 and 110% effort, whenever the situation calls for them to step up.
After a sterling debut in 2020, during which he became an integral part of a World Champion bullpen, it doesn’t seem as if left-hander Victor González delivered on his end of the bargain in the follow-up campaign.
González’s sophomore slump wasn’t as wire-to-wire jarring as some; he maintained a 3.57 ERA and struck out nearly a batter per inning, despite rising walk rates and a 4.27 FIP.
He dipped as the year dragged on, though, leading to an end-of-season demotion to the minors in August, fresh off yet another stint on the injured list.
What happened? González may have gotten a bit too comfortable, neglecting his body in the wake of the World Series. That’s spurred on a change that the out-of-nowhere left-hander hopes will revive his career entering 2022, when he’ll be on the Opening Day roster once again.
Dodgers’ Victor González wants to eat better in 2022
The good news? What’s in the past may now stay dead and buried.
Needing to do a large amount of roster reshuffling this offseason, the Dodgers added a pile of bounce back candidates at the back end of their bullpen, as well as Craig Kimbrel on a last-minute deal with the White Sox. González won’t be entering 2022 as a World Series hero anymore; he’ll just be another promising body who needs to work twice as hard to get noticed.
According to Jorge Castillo’s LA Times interview, the left-hander now has all the motivation he needed. González dipped to 30 pounds below his 2021 playing weight, and added some heft to his fastball, touching 97 at winter workouts to make the differentiation between his heater and off-speed far more appealing.
During the 2020 run, the affable González rose from total obscurity to Dave Roberts’ circle of trust, helping to carry a beleaguered bullpen by appearing every single day and saving the team’s bacon (eight postseason games in total).
Without prime González and Julio Urías (promoted to the rotation) in the ’21 bullpen, though, back-end matchup work suddenly looked quite different. If González can get back to a significant fraction of what he was when the Dodgers hoisted their trophy — alongside similar returning pressure points like Brusdar Graterol and Tommy Kahnle — LA might not be presenting a clear weakness of any kind from a roster-building perspective.
The Dodgers’ 2020 ring was built on unwavering, unyielding drive, and González seems to have reacquired that in spades.