While much has been made of the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation, their bullpen offers similar intrigue with the arrival of Corey Knebel, return of Blake Treinen, and the likes of Brusdar Graterol and Victor Gonzalez potentially taking a step forward.
The Dodgers unexpectedly wound up with Graterol last year when the Boston Red Sox raised concerns over his medicals and therefore had the Mookie Betts trade re-worked. Graterol had some experience as a starter but exclusively pitched out of the bullpen for the Dodgers.
It’s where he figures to remain moving forward, but the right-hander is leaning on a member of the rotation as he looks to continue developing. Graterol revealed Walker Buehler is teaching him how to throw a slider during Spring Training, which the 22-year-old has enjoyed learning.
“That’s news to me,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said with a laugh when the information was relayed to him. “Walker, I love him, because he’s always talking pitching. Certainly he’s a good guy to tutor some guys. I don’t know, so I’m going to dig in on that one.”
It’s common for pitchers to seek advice and guidance from one another on grips and things of the sort. In this case, Buehler is likely showing Graterol a new variant of a slider. Graterol threw that type of pitch 28.9% of the time last season, compared to a 71.1% usage on his fastball.
That Graterol would look to Buehler wasn’t a surprise. “It’s going to be really strong,” he said of the Dodgers’ rotation. “A really strong rotation.”
Graterol’s role in Dodgers bullpen
The Dodgers figure to have a strength in right-handed relief pitchers who can pitch in leverage situations with the likes of Graterol, Knebel and Treinen able to support Kenley Jansen. Brandon Morrow, signed a Minor League contract, could also pitch his way into that type of role as well.
To prepare for a full season, Graterol gave plenty of attention to his physical condition. “Just worked on my body, tried to manage my weight, stay healthy and worked on my mechanics as well,” he said.
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