Dodgers manager Dave Roberts met Caleb Ferguson for the first time Tuesday afternoon. Roberts had watched video of Ferguson’s pitching and studied scouting reports about his arsenal. They had never spoken before injuries expedited Ferguson’s arrival in the major leagues.
Ferguson will start Wednesday afternoon to fill a vacancy caused by 80% of the opening day starting rotation being on the disabled list. A 21-year-old left-handed pitcher, Ferguson has thrown only 47 innings above class-A baseball and made only two starts for triple-A Oklahoma City.
“Honest to God,” Ferguson said before Tuesday’s series opener against the Pirates at PNC Park, “at this moment right now, I thought I would still be in Tulsa.”
Ferguson posted a 1.38 ERA in eight starts for the Drillers with 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings. The organization promoted him to Oklahoma City in late May. Ferguson did not pitch in big league camp this spring and has only had scant experience facing major league hitters.
“I think I’m ready,” Ferguson said. “But the game is going to tell me if I’m ready or not.”
The Dodgers took Ferguson in the 38th round of the 2014 draft. He grew up in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, and expected a fleet of 40 friends and family members to make the three-hour trek to Pittsburgh for Wednesday’s game. Ferguson asked his father to help handle tickets for the group.
Roberts expected Ferguson to deal with nervousness Wednesday. That is typical for a rookie, he explained. But he felt confident in the young man he had just met. And he had received assurances from farm director Brandon Gomes.
“He can just handle this ascension, in their opinions,” Roberts said. “His fastball plays. It’s got life in the zone.”
Turner sits with sore wrist
“J.T. is pretty forthright, if something needs more attention,” Roberts said. “So he’s been getting a little bit of treatment on it. I think it’s something where he could have played today, but I think for me, at what cost?”
Turner missed the first 40 games of the season after getting drilled on the wrist by a fastball from Oakland pitcher Kendall Graveman on March 19. He was hitting .250 with a .660 on-base plus slugging percentage in his first 18 games back from the disabled list.
Hill makes more progress
Rich Hill threw 60 pitches, 30 in the bullpen and 30 more against hitters in a simulated game, without a bandage on his left middle finger. He put the bandage back on for two more simulated innings. Hill reported no issues caused by the blister that has sidelined him since May 19. “It’s actually callusing over really well,” Hill said.
Hill expected to throw another simulated outing later this week. He expressed his willingness to pitch out of the major league bullpen to aid the team while building up his arm strength so he could start. The Dodgers are more likely to send Hill on a minor league rehab outing where he can throw five full innings without rupturing the blister.
“The bullpen conversation, we haven’t had that yet,” Roberts said. “That’s something that we could entertain, we could talk about it, given the usage of our ‘pen. It’s great that Rich is open to that. That’s really important.”