While all of the attention last season went to Mookie Betts and his first go around in Dodger blue, there is another first-year Dodger that has also become an instant fan favorite. From the moment he put on the Dodgers uniform, Brusdar Graterol has been incredibly fun to follow, and his successful first season has brought with it some much-deserved recognition.
On a recent episode of Backstage Dodgers, the SNLA crew highlighted the impact that Brusdar Graterol had in his first season in LA.
Josh Bard, the Dodgers bullpen coach in 2020, came to Los Angeles after serving as the Yankees bench coach from 2018 to 2019. In what proved to be an exciting offseason for the Dodgers, Bard perhaps played the biggest role in the acquisition of Brusdar Graterol after watching him first-hand as he dominated the Yankees in the 2019 ALDS.
[Our hitters] said [Brusdar] wasn’t scared. The didn’t see the ball good off him. You know, he attacked. For a 21-year-old to go into Yankee Stadium in the playoffs and throw up a zero, it was impressive. – Josh Bard, Dodgers bullpen coach
While the original plan wasn’t to bring Graterol to Los Angeles, this didn’t mean that the Dodgers front office was not fond of him. They know value when they see it, and once the original trade fell through, Andrew Friedman wasted no time in structuring a new deal that would bring the flamethrower to LA.
Once the trade for Graterol had been finalized, it didn’t take long for him to win over the clubhouse and fans alike. Back at the start of Spring Training, there was a buzz around the organization about the talent this kid possessed. Players and coaches couldn’t stop raving about his abilities and how big of an impact he would have in the bullpen for LA.
A Clubhouse Hit
In addition to his talent on the field, however, his teammates and coaches loved how he never seemed to have a bad day. There was an energy about Graterol that just lifted everyone’s spirits, and manager Dave Roberts acknowledged just how important that is for a team.
When he’s not on the mound, he’s just jovial, just fun-loving and easy going. He’s just a great teammate. I mean he’s authentic, which is the most important thing. – Dave Roberts, Dodgers manager
It was obvious to anyone watching the Dodgers last season that Graterol’s optimism and great energy was as real as it gets. He is genuinely invested in lifting the spirits of the clubhouse and takes the role quite seriously.
I like to please my teammates by cheering in the bullpen. It keeps them focused on the game and what’s going on. There are also moments where I want to improve the mood. That’s what helps me be the person I am now. A happy person.
But don’t mistake his giddy personality for complacency on the field. When he’s out on the mound, the smile gets replaced with an intense focus, and Graterol channels a different beast to get the job done.
When I’m on the mound, I transform. I don’t transform into a different person, I transform into the animal that I’ve always liked which is the lion. The lion is always focused on its prey.
Looking back, the botched three-team trade with the Red Sox and Twins may be the biggest storyline for years to come. Not only did the Dodgers end up landing Mookie Betts regardless, but the addition of Brusdar Graterol was no throw-in.
The Dodgers landed two young stars and will have them both for years to come, as Graterol will not hit free agency until 2026. The 22-year-old showed that he could handle any role that the team gives him and definitely has the makings of a future closer. If last year was any indication, the best is yet to come for the Bazooka.
For the full episode of Backstage Dodgers, click on the video below.
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