The Los Angeles Dodgers have jumped out to an 11-5 record to begin the 2020 season, receiving contributions up-and-down the roster. While the club hasn’t yet clicked on all cylinders, one of the biggest factors to their success thus far has been a much improved bullpen.
Entering Monday, the group ranks at the top in multiple categories, including ERA and home runs allowed per nine innings. One reliever in particular that has thrived is Caleb Ferguson, who looks rejuvenated after a disappointing 2019 campaign.
In eight appearances, the left-hander owns a 1.35 ERA, 1.80 FIP and 0.75 WHIP with 10 strikeouts and one walk across 6.2 innings pitched. “I guess you could say it is the highest it’s been,” Ferguson said of his confidence level.
“To be honest with you, I’m trying not to think about that too much. I try to just go out and do what I do every day, prepare myself to be able to pitch that night, and go out and compete.”
Ferguson is a two-pitch reliever, mixing in a fastball and slider during his outings. He worked on the latter extensively in Spring Training. “It’s kind of funny. It was really good coming out of spring, then quarantine happened, I went home and it wasn’t as good,” he said.
“I don’t know why. I didn’t change anything, I kept trying to throw it, and then as soon as I got back out for Summer Camp it was good again. I don’t know what changed it. It’s still kind of a work in progress.
“Each day it gets a little bit better. I think now it’s more of a consistency thing of being able to execute it, throw it where I want with the action and velo. Everything I’m looking for is there, now it’s just the execution of it.”
According to FanGraphs, Ferguson throws his slider roughly 19% of the time. He still heavily relies on his fastball, which has improved in terms of spin rate this season.
“I did some stuff with the guys all offseason at Ohio State,” Ferguson said of the tweaks he made to his fastball. “I worked with their coaches a lot and brought it into here. Every single day I’m doing dry work now before I play catch, just getting that repeatability down, and I think that’s really helped.”
As for the results he’s gotten on the mound, Ferguson is happy to see his hard work paying off. “It’s great. It’s obviously what I’ve been working towards since doing this. It’s nice to finally see those results start to play out,” he said.
“But the work is not done, and there’s still a lot of stuff I need to accomplish. I think the long-term goal this year is to get to the World Series. Once that is accomplished, we’ll go to the next thing.
“But it’s definitely a good time. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing every day and staying available.”
Ferguson still envisions starting, but enjoys pitching out of bullpen
Prior to making his MLB debut two years ago, Ferguson was exclusively a starting pitcher in the Minors. But of his 82 career Major League appearances, only five of them have come in the form of starts.
Ferguson revealed that while he wouldn’t mind starting on a full-time basis someday, he is perfectly content with his current role in the bullpen. “Somebody actually asked me that the other day in the clubhouse. I don’t know,” Ferguson said.
“I think starting is fun, but I also think throwing leverage innings in the backend of a bullpen is a lot of fun, too. Those guys are talked about just as much. So I don’t know. I love starting but I also love throwing in a close game.”
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