Dodgers bring Jimmy Nelson back as bullpen wild card
By Adam Weinrib
2021’s potential Comeback Dodger of the Year out of the not-vaunted-but-pretty-good bullpen is returning to the team, completely out of nowhere.
Though most of our offseason projections figured his name would be among those the Dodgers would have to move on without, the team announced Jimmy Nelson would, indeed, return for 2022 after the team salvaged his career that had initially fallen apart in Milwaukee.
The only drawback, and it’s a big one? Nelson is still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, a procedure he underwent in mid-August after posting a 1.86 ERA with 44 whiffs in 29 innings earlier in the campaign. His absence was an underrated 2021 problem that continues to be swept under the rug behind Max Muncy’s similar injury.
Might he miss the whole season? Sure. It’s quite likely he will, which is why this is a pillow deal with a 2023 club option, much like Tommy Kahnle’s familiar contract.
But if he blitzes back for the stretch run, knowing he’ll only be piling up “reliever innings” rather than “starter innings” on his right arm? It could be a major boon for an LA team currently without Kenley Jansen and permanently without Corey Knebel and Joe Kelly.
Dodgers help fill bullpen with Jimmy Nelson
In order to fit Nelson onto the roster, the Dodgers dropped Dustin May onto the 60-Day IL, another wild card who desperately wants to return and play the same role in 2022’s second half.
At the moment, LA’s bullpen depth chart looks light, and Nelson won’t help with that, unless a lightning rod strikes down the stretch. But perhaps Kahnle, the hard-throwing reliever signed last offseason under the same structure, could aid things until Nelson comes back.
The Dodgers have enough financial flexibility to play this sort of game, even though nothing has been decided yet in their back end (and, uh, don’t look at the rotation, either). Nelson has brought his career back from the brink in LA once already, though, so it’s no surprise he’s opted to do it again with so much uncertainty ahead of him.