Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Caleb Ferguson enjoyed a successful rookie campaign in 2018, debuting as a starting pitcher before eventually transitioning to the bullpen and becoming a key member of the unit for the stretch run.
After closing out the regular season on a strong note, the 22-year-old was included on the Dodgers’ active roster for the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. He made his postseason debut in Game 1, retiring all three batters faced on 20 pitches.
Ferguson recorded two strikeouts in the outing but wasn’t pleased with his curveball despite the excellent results. He approached Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who advised him to meet with Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax after the game.
During an appearance on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove,” Ferguson revealed that a conversation with Koufax helped lead to an improvement in his curveball for the remainder of the postseason, via MLB.com:
“Came into the dugout and told Honeycutt, ‘Hey man, my curveball is not feeling right. I can’t do what I want with it.’ It hadn’t been feeling right for a while. And [Honeycutt] was like, ‘Well, Sandy is here, so we’ll just go talk to him after the game. Sandy basically told me I was throwing my curveball the wrong way, ‘here’s how you throw it,’ and now that’s how I’m throwing it. It’s gotten a lot better since then.”
Ferguson elaborated on his talk with Koufax, which lasted for the better part of an hour:
“That was insane. I was kind of starstruck to be honest with you. I think that was the first time I was ever starstruck talking to somebody. We talked for probably 30 to 45 minutes on curveballs and placement of your hand.”
From that point on, Ferguson appeared in five more postseason games and issued only one walk over two scoreless innings of work. He struck out three batters in that span and didn’t allow a single hit.
Koufax has had a lasting impact on the Dodgers even in his post-playing days, often giving advice to any player that approaches him.
Ferguson also credited teammates Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill for helping him adjust to the Major League level as a rookie.