Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Understands Caleb Ferguson Prefers To Start, But Sees ‘So Much Value’ In Him As Reliever
Caleb Ferguson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

A myriad of injuries to the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff has created openings for a plethora of arms around the organization, including Caleb Ferguson, who worked his way up from the Minors to a prominent role out of the Major League bullpen.

After initially making three starts to begin his 2018 campaign, Ferguson has since shifted to the bullpen where he has seemingly progressed with each outing.

His latest appearance on Friday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim saw Ferguson toss two scoreless innings with three strikeouts — a performance good enough to earn him his second win of the season.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts realizes Ferguson would ideally prefer to start, but offered high praise for his value as a reliever, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“I know he sees himself as a starter, and the organization does. But right now, we just see so much value in him for our big-league club in that (long relief) capacity. The role that Ross (Stripling) filled in ’16 helped him get acclimated to the big leagues, making some spot starts. Can I see that happening? Absolutely. Whether it plays out that way, I can’t speak to. Right now, I think he’s a good piece in our ’pen.”

As Roberts notes, Ross Stripling was limited to long-relief duty for the better part of two Major League seasons before breaking out as an All-Star starting pitcher this year.

Roberts is additionally encouraged by the growth Ferguson continues to make, and his versatility as a swingman can ultimately lead to even more opportunities down the road.

In eight games this season (three starts), Ferguson has compiled a 4.18 ERA, 3.69 FIP and 1.14 WHIP over 23.2 innings pitched with 28 strikeouts to only seven walks.

Those numbers improve even more when considering Ferguson’s work as a reliever. In five games out of the bullpen, the left-hander has posted a minuscule 1.38 ERA and 0.92 WHIP across 13 innings pitched with 16 punch outs to only one free pass.