Caleb Ferguson unexpectedly made his MLB debut last season and despite a change in role, wound up being a valuable member of the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen. He began to stretch out as a starter during Spring Training but again was transitioned into a relief pitcher.
Ferguson’s versatility earned him a spot on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster for the first time in his career. He fared well before falling victim to an oblique injury that manager Dave Roberts surmised played a role in Ferguson imploding during an April 27 appearance.
He spent nearly three weeks on the 10-day injured list but hasn’t been able to find any sort of consistency with the Dodgers since returning. As a result, Ferguson has been optioned and recalled on multiple occasions.
He returned July 18 and allowed two runs in each of his first two appearances. However, that’s now been followed with a scoreless inning in three consecutive games. The latest of which came in Monday’s loss against the Colorado Rockies.
Ferguson represented one of the few bright spots for the Dodgers, which Roberts credited him and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt for after their work on mechanics, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“This was a big outing for Caleb and a big spot he got us out of. A lot of the credit goes to Caleb and Rick Honeycutt. They worked on his delivery and cleaned up his leg kick. The stroke is a lot more clean. He was making good throws, he was striking the breaking ball. I expect we’re going to see more of that from Caleb.”
After Kenta Maeda held the Rockies to just one run through four innings, he failed to retire any of the seven batters faced in the fifth and the Dodgers’ deficit ballooned to 6-1. Ferguson inherited two runners, and was in a bases-loaded jam upon intentionally walking Ian Desmond.
He wiggled out of the trouble behind a strikeout, shallow fly out and second strikeout. Ferguson had improved command and pitched at the level that was reminiscent of the 6.1 scoreless innings he amassed over his first seven appearances this season.
Roberts has previously cited Ferguson’s command of his fastball and curveball as being the root of his struggles. Upon returning in June, the 23-year-old expressed confidence he’d solved what was plaguing the effectiveness of his breaking ball. Though, results didn’t support that.
If Ferguson is indeed able to provide the Dodgers with quality pitching, it will be a significant boon for a bullpen that’s largely relied on Julio Urias as its lone lefty this season.