Injuries to Tony Cingrani, Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw during Spring Training required the Los Angeles Dodgers to improvise a bit with their pitching staff come Opening Day of the 2019 season.
Hill and Kershaw have since returned from the 10-day injured list, and Cingrani is on the mend from a shoulder impingement that also impacted his 2018 season. Meanwhile, just as Hill was set to be activated, Caleb Ferguson suffered a strained left oblique.
The Dodgers initially were hopeful he would avoid the IL but Ferguson was sidelined as a corresponding move to reinstating Hill. It was determined Ferguson’s strain was relatively mild, and he resumed throwing shortly after being put on the injured list.
The left-hander built up to a simulated game early last week and followed that by beginning a rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. After making one appearance for the Quakes, Ferguson is joining Triple-A Oklahoma City to continue his rehab process, per Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
Caleb Ferguson will make his second rehab appearance for triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday.
Ferguson issued one walk and struck out a pair during a scoreless inning of work for Rancho Cucamonga on Friday. The Dodgers have not laid out a timetable for his return, but manager Dave Roberts said the plan for Ferguson — and Cingrani — was to pitch one-plus inning while on rehab.
Despite again filling a temporary role as a relief pitcher, Ferguson put together 6.1 scoreless innings in his first seven appearances this season. He later allowed runs in consecutive appearances and was completely ineffective in his final game before going on the injured list.
Roberts couldn’t rule out if Ferguson may have been concealing his oblique trouble and therefore failed to retire any of the three batters faced in that appearance. What Roberts did notice was an overall decline in Ferguson’s mechanics.
“I do know there’s an execution component,” Roberts said. “If you look at the radar gun, it’s been very consistent. But then now you kind of layer in execution or mechanics, and that’s where the issues have been for me.
“He’s got great stuff, good competitor. But when you hit a right-hander with a breaking ball, things like that just don’t add up with what he’s capable of doing.”
Overall this season, Ferguson is 0-1 with a 3.46 ERA, 6.25 FIP and 1.69 WHIP. His and Cingrani’s return will create a roster crunch for the Dodgers in their crowded bullpen. Of the group, Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez, Dylan Floro, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias have Minor League options.
“We have a lot of good players,” Roberts said. “Things kind of always open up when a situation arises.”