Trying to solve the unexpected magic of Dodgers' Mike Bolsinger

Trying to solve the unexpected magic of Dodgers' Mike Bolsinger
Dodgers pitcher Mike Bolsinger throws a pitch during a game against the San Diego Padres on May 23. (Harry How / Getty Images)

So I'm probably wondering the same thing you are, if not most everyone in baseball about now:

What in the name of Roy Hobbs is so different about Mike Bolsinger this season?


Last year he went 1-6 with a 5.50 earned-run average with Arizona. The Diamondbacks were so unimpressed they sold him to the Dodgers in the off-season for a couple of bucks and some pine tar.

Now this season in four starts for the Dodgers he is 3-0 with a 0.71 ERA, and Saturday allowed only one hit in eight scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres.

How is this possible? What exactly is so different about Bolsinger in 2015? You could try going to the source, only Bolsinger said:

"I don't know. People have been asking me that, and I don't know. Something just clicked in my head. I'm locked in. That's the best way to describe, locked in."

There's little doubt about that. All this from a guy who never hits 90 mph on the radar gun and relies primarily on a curveball that can make hitters look silly, and leave them highly frustrated.

His curveball is looking more like a work of art by the start.

"It gets to the apex of its point and just comes down like a roller coaster," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "It gains speed a that top. You don't really see that. Most curveballs feel like they decel[erate] as they come in, and his feels like it actually picks up speed as it coming into the hitting zone."

Bolsinger, 27, has remarkable control with the pitch and can throw it at different speeds.

"His off-speed stuff breaks late, so it looks like it's out of the zone and breaks in, or it looks it's in the zone and breaks out," said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. "And his fastball has late cut, so it's tough to square up. It gets on you a little quicker than the velocity says. He's deceptive."

The Dodgers have two holes in their rotation after season-ending injuries to Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy. At the moment, their spots are being filled by Carlos Frias and Bolsinger. It's just been assumed the Dodgers will have to acquire another middle-of-the-rotation starter, but they could not possibly pick up anyone pitching better than the way Bolsinger currently is.

Which, of course, is a few light years away from the Bolsinger the Diamondbacks seemed so eager to depart with.

"Baseball's a business and they made a business decision," he said. "I don't think I was pitching to the caliber I should have been pitching over there. That was me not putting myself in a good position. I got the opportunity here and I made sure I was going with it."

Say this for Bolsinger, he is refreshingly honest. Asked if he expected to have this kind of impact on the Dodgers and he said:

"No. I'll be honest. Going into triple-A, starting there, I told myself, pitch well and good things are going to happen. ... And it's been going pretty well."


But really, how he could be throwing this much better? Here are three possible, partial answers: he's matured as a pitcher, he's now throwing in a pitcher's ballpark and the Dodgers have not tried to change his style.

Said Ellis: "The big thing for him is, he's just comfortable with who he is. We haven't tried to make him anything he isn't."

Said Gonzalez: "We're in a better place to pitch compared to Arizona. That could have an effect. Confidence is incredible to a pitcher, where you know even if you make a mistake it won't be hit over the fence. You've seen plenty of pitchers go from a hitters' ballpark and have a bad ERA and go to a pitchers' ballpark and have a great season."

Not satisfied? Hey, as they say, it's a crazy game. It could all blow up in his next start, but for now, he's the Dodgers' very own Houdini. Believe your eyes or not.

Follow Steve Dilbeck on Twitter @SteveDilbeck