The Dodgers adding Victor Gonzalez to their bullpen last year was one of the more sneaky good moves. Victor came out of nowhere to allow just 3 earned runs through 15 appearances out of the pen for LA in 2020. He would go on to get some pretty big outs in the playoff run, including 4 appearances in the World Series.
Gonzalez didn’t strike out a ton of guys, but he kept the ball in the zone and induced a LOT of ground balls. That’s part of what made him so successful for the Dodgers last year. Unfortunately, some of that has changed this season.
Victor has already issued 15 walks for the Dodgers in 2021. That’s at a rate of almost 5 per 9 innings pitched. His command has not been nearly as good as it was a year ago, and that’s what Dodgers manager Dave Roberts thinks is holding him back.
I think the command has not been consistent with the fastball. The command isn’t what it has been certainly last year. And I think that’s what it is. I thought today his slider was really good. but with 2 strikes to Alfaro, he just didn’t get it to the dirt.
Roberts talked about Victor’s command after he gave up the go-ahead homerun on Monday night. It was just the second homer allowed by Gonzalez this season and the second of his entire big league career. Despite the early results, Victor has also been a workhorse for the Dodgers.
He has already appeared in 36 games and pitched 28 innings for the Dodgers this year. Those 36 appearances are by far the most out of anyone aside from Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen. To say that he’s been working hard would be an understatement.
That may or may not play into the lack of command in the season. But it’s certainly a problem worth examining. Gonzalez still has an average exit velocity that sits in the top 1 percent of the league, so he can be VERY effective.
It’s just a matter of consistent execution at this point.