Dodgers 2018 Season Grades: Caleb Ferguson Excels in Relief
The Dodgers received surprise contributions from many of their prospects in 2018. One prospect who burst onto the scene in 2018 was Caleb Ferguson.
The Dodgers’ starting rotation was decimated by injuries in 2018. Literally, every starting pitcher that was part of the opening day rotation made their way onto the disabled list at some point in the season. Even beyond their initial starting five, several other starting pitchers that came up like Dennis Santana also hit the disabled list.
One of the bright spots of the 2018 season was the emergence of Caleb Ferguson. Fergie started the season in Double-A and dominated his eight starts there posting a 1.38 ERA and limited opposing hitters to a .217 average. Since the Dodgers needed to dip into their Triple-A depth, Ferguson made his way to the OKC Dodgers for two starts and pitched to a 2.25 ERA in eight innings.
The Dodgers desperately needed a starting pitcher and called Caleb up to make his big league debut on June 6th against the Pirates. Ferguson was wild and appeared to be nervous as he lasted just 1 2/3 innings while allowing four runs on three walks. After making three starts with an ERA of 7.59, the Dodgers shifted Ferguson to the bullpen where he finished the rest of the season with a 2.35 ERA while working as a reliever.
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While the end goal may be for Caleb Ferguson to be a starting pitcher, he was very good in relief and the Dodgers would be wise to use him as a reliever again for the 2019 season. The thing with Ferguson is he has four pitches but heavily relies on his fastball and curveball. In the big leagues, Caleb threw just one slider and twenty-six changeups. Compare that to 597 fastballs and 206 curveballs and it’s clear that Ferguson is a two-pitch pitcher.
While his pitches will likely develop as he becomes more a pitcher than a thrower, Ferguson allowed the following averages on his pitches: fastball (227 AVG), curveball (216 AVG), and changeup (333 AVG). The one slider that Ferguson threw was a ball but otherwise, his fastball and curve were his core pitches.
Ferguson even made his way onto the initial playoff roster as a rookie and will look to become one of the Dodgers’ main middle relief pitchers in 2019. Right-handed batters hit .237 against Caleb Ferguson so he is more useful than a lefty specialist. The Dodgers signed Joe Kelly who will likely be the eighth inning guy but for the sixth and seventh innings, Ferguson could become one of Dave Roberts’ most trusted options.