SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Justin Bruihl's comeback from Tommy John surgery in 2014 is complete.
The former Cal Poly pitcher became the 20th Mustang to play in the Major Leagues on Sunday, retiring five of the six batters he faced to wrap up an 8-2 Los Angeles Dodgers victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium.
Bruihl, now 24, pitched at Cal Poly during the 2016 season. In a team-high 25 appearances on the mound as a freshman, including one start, Bruihl was 1-3 with a 4.88 ERA, striking out 27 batters over 31 1/3 innings. He secured five outs for his victory at Hawai'i on April 16, 2016.
Of the 20 Major Leaguers who wore a Cal Poly uniform, current head coach Larry Lee has coached 11 of them over 19 seasons. The other nine played baseball for the Mustangs from 1925 through 2002. In addition, Dean Treanor, a bullpen coach for the Miami Marlins from 2016-19, played at Cal Poly from 1968-70, pitching a no-hitter in a 2-0 win over Cal Poly Pomona in 1970.
A graduate of Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, Calif., Bruihl pitched three innings against Marin Catholic in early March 2014, but felt a twinge in his left arm which soon became a full-fledged pain with accompanying weakness. He quickly underwent Tommy John surgery for the reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. More than a year of rehab followed the surgery.
The southpaw was back on the mound as a senior in 2015, hitting .302 and making seven appearances on the mound, allowing no earned runs over 17 1/3 innings. He never pitched more than three innings in his senior season until the finale May 30 in a playoff game against Pinole Valley, where he pitched four innings and allowed one unearned run with five strikeouts.
Following his lone season with the Mustangs in 2016, Bruihl returned to his hometown and pitched one year at Santa Rosa City College in 2017, posting a perfect 7-0 record and 2.12 ERA with 59 strikeouts over 51 innings. After committing to Cal, he signed an undrafted free agent contract from the Dodgers on July 15, 2017, and was assigned to the Arizona League Dodgers but did not pitch that summer.
Bruihl's minor league career included stops at Ogden in 2018, Rancho Cucamonga and Great Lakes in 2019 and, following the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020, Oklahoma City and Tulsa this year, going a combined 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA and 50 strikeouts over 37.2 innings pitched across 26 games (one start).
In three minor league seasons, Bruihl is a combined 14-2 with a 3.73 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 72 games.
The Dodgers selected Bruihl's contract from Oklahoma City on Sunday, signed him to a Major League contract, and placed Garrett Cleavinger on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Saturday, with a right oblique strain.
Bruihl, who has debuted at three levels this season -- Double-A Tulsa, Triple-A Oklahoma City and the Major League Dodgers -- became the 32nd man to pitch for the Dodgers this season when he entered the game with one out and two on in the eighth inning.
Bruihl struck out Brandon Marsh, then walked pinch-hitter Shohei Ohtani to load the bases. Bruihl worked out of the jam by inducing Jack Mayfield to hit a comebacker on a 2-2 pitch, which Bruihl turned into a force play at the plate to end the inning.
Bruihl retired the side in order in the ninth on two groundouts to second base and a strikeout to close out the win for the Dodgers.
Bruihl's fastball ranges from 90-93 mph, his cutter 85-88, his slider 78-81 and his still-evolving changeup 80-82.
With the addition of Bruihl, Cal Poly currently has four former baseball players on Major League rosters.
Outfielder Mitch Haniger is with the Seattle Mariners while Spencer Howard is pitching for the Texas Rangers. Utility player Mark Mathias is on the Milwaukee Brewers' injured list.
Former Mustangs in the Major Leagues
Player (Years at Cal Poly) Years in Majors
Thornton Lee (1925-26) 1933-48
Mike Krukow (1971-73) 1976-89
Dave Oliver (1970-73) 1977
Ozzie Smith (1974-77) 1978-96
Gorman Heimueller (1974-77) 1983-84
Craig Gerber (1978-81) 1985
John Orton (1985-87) 1989-93
Lee Hancock (1886-88) 1995-96
Kevin Correia (2000-02) 2003-15
Garrett Olson (2003-05) 2007-12
Casey Fien (2005-06) 2009-17
Bud Norris (2004-06) 2009-18
Brent Morel (2006-08) 2010-15
Logan Schafer (2007-08) 2011-16
Evan Reed (2005-07) 2013-14
Mike Miller (2010-12) 2016
Mitch Haniger (2010-12) 2016-Present
Spencer Howard (2014-15) 2020-Present
Mark Mathias (2013-15) 2020-Present
Justin Bruihl (2016) 2021-Present