Last year the Los Angeles Dodgers made an upside play on Jimmy Nelson, which didn’t pan out as he suffered a back injury during Spring Training that ultimately required season-ending surgery.
Nelson and the Dodgers remained connected heading into the 2021 season as the right-hander signed another Minor League contract. He performed well in spring and was added to the 40-man roster in order to break camp with the Dodgers and be active for Opening Day.
Nelson allowed earned runs in each of his first two games, then an unearned run in a third. However, that was followed by five consecutive scoreless appearances. After struggling a bit against the San Diego Padres on April 25, Nelson responded with 14.1 shutout innings over his next 12 games (one start).
However, included in that stretch was a brief stint (May 23-June 3) on the 10-day injured list due to right forearm inflammation.
Nelson’s string of scoreless work was snapped by giving up run to the Chicago Cubs on June 25, but more concerning was another IL stint beginning July 9 because of a left lumbar strain. He did manage to return two weeks later, but only appeared in three games before a third IL stint began Aug. 4.
Two days later the Dodgers transferred Nelson to the 60-day IL and announced he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The 32-year-old finished the year 1-2 with a 1.86 ERA, 1.88 FIP and 0.93 WHIP over 28 games (one start).
Nelson’s 2021 highlight
If not the aforementioned streak of 14.1 scoreless innings, Nelson’s entire 2021 season largely could be considered a highlight. He was effective when healthy and emerged as a valuable arm out of the bullpen for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Considering the timing of Nelson’s operation, it’s plausible he will have to miss the entire 2022 season. At best, the veteran pitcher is looking at a late-season return, which could be a chance the Dodgers are willing to take on another Minor League deal.
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