Remember the Dodgers' dominant Tulsa rotation that spent Summer 2023 setting strikeout rate records? Well, major-league Dodgers watchers are about to see a little more of it.
Following in Emmet Sheehan's footsteps (who was promoted shortly after the Baseball America article spotlighting Tulsa dropped), Kyle Hurt is about to become the latest swing-and-miss weapon on LA's staff.
Hurt was promoted to The Show on Tuesday afternoon in the wake of Gavin Stone's (and Evan Phillips') difficult day keeping the Padres at bay. In reality, though, promoting the team's No. 12 prospect (per MLB Pipeline) wasn't a reactionary move. This was a bigger-picture attempt to limit his innings at the tail end of 2023 while still pursuing a potential bullpen solution.
Considering the sheer numbers of pitchers who the Dodgers thought they could rely on, but have since disappeared, it makes complete sense to keep taking bites at the apple.
Dodgers promote high strikeout starting pitching prospect Kyle Hurt to pitch out of 2023 bullpen
The 25-year-old Hurt, a fifth-round selection in 2020 by the Marlins out of USC, came to the Dodgers alongside Alex Vesia in the Dylan Floro trade. Considering Floro's since been cut loose in Miami, it's safe to call this one a two-part victory for Andrew Friedman.
Hurt's 3.87 ERA and elevated WHIP this season are due in large part to struggles with control at Double-A; he walked 33 batters in 65 innings with a 4.15 ERA at the level before settling things down a bit in six excellent outings at Triple-A (3.09 ERA across 23.1 innings). 15 of his 19 appearances in Tulsa came in the rotation, while only one of his Oklahoma City outings was in a starting role.
Of course, the eye-popping strikeout totals are what draw you to Hart, regardless of the command and control problems. In those 65 Double-A innings, he blew away 110 batters, helping craft the highest strikeout rate in all of the minor leagues this season (145 in 88.1 frames). He's coming off a Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week honor, and comes armed with a devastating wipeout breaker.
And his MLB debut couldn't have looked better on Wednesday night.
Electric! Against the heart of the order!
Walker Buehler isn't walking through that door. The Dodgers remain short on trustworthy late-inning weapons, even though their bullpen has improved in the second half. If not Hurt and if not now, who and when? Every dart is worth a shot, especially with the NL West sewn up and LA's sole remaining goal involving gearing up for the playoffs.