For all the versatility the Los Angeles Dodgers boast with their position players, the team has similar flexibility within their pitching staff. Caleb Ferguson, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias have served as prime examples of that over recent years.
Each member in the quartet is a starter by trade but have been relied upon by the Dodgers to pitch out of the bullpen during various stretches. That’s required the Dodgers to work a balancing act and keep the pitchers stretched out in the event they were needed in the rotation.
Heading into Spring Training this year the Dodgers planned to have Ferguson on a starter’s routine as they mulled over a role for the left-hander. By the middle of March it was decided he would be stretched out to pitch three innings and be available in either capacity.
But for the start of 2020 the Dodgers are committing to Ferguson serving as a relief pitcher, according to Pedro Moura of The Athletic:
Caleb Ferguson, a former starter, will begin as a reliever.
Ferguson was included on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster for the first time and went 1-2 with a 4.84 ERA, 5.05 FIP and 1.48 WHIP in 46 games (two starts) this past season. He started the year by stringing together seven consecutive scoreless relief appearances.
However, he struggled against the Pittsburgh Pirates at the end of April and was promptly placed on the 10-day injured list due to oblique trouble. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts later surmised Ferguson’s trouble against the Brewers could have been caused by an attempt to pitch through the injury.
The left-hander continued to be plagued by bouts of inconsistency — attributed to not commanding his breaking ball — but did fare well during August and September. Although Ferguson had some trouble finding his footing with the Dodgers, he shined for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
He didn’t earn a decision in 13 games (one start) but pitched to a 1.76 ERA and had 27 strikeouts over 15.1 innings pitched.
The Dodgers essentially converting Ferguson to a full-time reliever could be related to a new rule requiring all pitchers to face a minimum of three batters or reach the end of a half-inning (with exceptions for incapacitating injury or illness).
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events and more!