Having previously found success with converted starters Joe Blanton and Brandon Morrow shifting to a role out of the bullpen, the Los Angeles Dodgers hoped to do the same with Tom Koehler in 2018.
He was coming off a season spent with the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays, and had already proven to be effective as a relief pitcher. In 15 games (one start) for the Blue Jays, he pitched to a 2.42 ERA and had 18 strikeouts in 17 innings.
Koehler’s first game with Toronto was a start, then he shifted to reliever for the remainder of the season. While he and the Dodgers had grand visions, their plan was halted before it ever was put into action.
Koehler was removed from his second Cactus League appearance, and never pitched after that Spring Training game. Now coming off a season lost to injury, he’s signed a Minor League contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, per Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic:
#Pirates have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with RHP Tom Koehler. No invite to big league camp. He will be rehabbing most of the 2019 season after having shoulder surgery last summer.
— Rob Biertempfel (@RobBiertempfel) February 6, 2019
At the time of his injury last spring, Koehler was diagnosed with a mild strain of the anterior capsule in his right shoulder. Surgery was not deemed necessary but he was projected to miss several weeks and upwards of multiple months.
Koehler began the season on the 10-day disabled list but was transferred to the 60-day DL April 2, 2018. He began long tossing in early May and was encouraged following a bullpen session one month later.
There was hope a return by the All-Star break was feasible but the timeline then slipped into August. Come late July, a decision was made for Koehler to undergo right shoulder surgery, and he was ruled out for all of 2018.