Dodgers Team News

Dodgers News: Reliever Gus Varland’s Rebirth as Pitcher Started Last Year with LA

Gus Varland was an average Double-A starting pitcher in the Dodgers’ minor league system. But last year in May, the now 26-year-old arm moved to the bullpen and made some changes to his delivery — and they worked.

His strikeout rate went up while his walk rate went down, and he also dropped almost 4 earned runs of his season ERA.

“What made me change to have the most success, especially last year in Double-A when I went from a starter to reliever, were the mechanical changes I made in my delivery,” Varland said. “Being more consistent, more powerful, and a different mentality of just attacking the zone and not being scared of any hitter.”

(via J.P. Hoornstra, The Orange County Register)

The mechanical changes and improvement got noticed by a big league team, and it wasn’t the Dodgers — it was the Milwaukee Brewers.

The now big league reliever was making strides as in his first four outings for Milwaukee this year, he did not surrender any earned runs. However, against the Padres after a line drive hit off his face, Varland didn’t entirely come back the same.

After 29 days of recovering from that incident and taking another batted ball off his throwing hand, the pitcher had a psychological recovery ahead of him.

“Just because I didn’t expect it at all,” Varland said. “It’s something you have to get past and move forward from. Physically it wasn’t that bad at all. I didn’t have a concussion.”

(via J.P. Hoornstra, The Orange County Register)

In his second game back from the incident, Varland fell apart against the St. Louis Cardinals. The young arm allowed 9 earned runs, 6 hits, 2 home runs, and walked 3 all while only getting 2 batters out.

He was DFA’d by the Brewers the following day.

Since Varland was a Rule 5 draft pick, Varland was offered back to the Dodgers where he was assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers. In 30 games with the Triple-A team, he owned a 2.16 ERA and averaged a strikeout per inning.

Due to an injury to Joe Kelly, the Dodgers called up Varland to replace a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher with another one of a similar caliber.

Varland made his Dodgers debut on Wednesday against his former major league ballclub. In 2 innings, Varland did not allow a single hit and only walked the first batter he saw.

He then turned an amazing double play with a 96.9 mph bouncing ground ball straight to Varland. The pitcher then faced the minimum to close out the rest of the game. he stuck out three batters on his way to the game’s end.

No one knows how long Varland’s spot on the Dodgers roster is guaranteed, but if he is able to keep pitching like this, he’ll have an opportunity to stick around.

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Have you subscribed to our YouTube Channel yet? Please subscribe and hit that notification bell to stay up to date on all the latest Dodgers news, rumors, interviews, live streams, and more all year long!

Jacob Zinder

Jacob Zinder is a digital sports journalist that recently graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Growing up in California, Jacob has been a fan of the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Dodgers for his entire life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button