While it’s too early in the season to point out any glaring team weaknesses, one area of the Los Angeles squad that may soon be receiving a boost is the bullpen.
Seven games is hardly an accurate measuring stick, but the Dodgers relief crew is currently sitting in first place in the majors with a combined 0.73 WHIP, a significantly more accurate stat than ERA when evaluating the performance of relief pitchers.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Los Angeles relievers have thrown an even 30 innings of work, surrendering nine earned runs on 16 hits and six walks alongside 28 strikeouts.
Through the first seven games, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol and Evan Phillips have made three appearances apiece, while Tyler Anderson has already been busy throwing a full eight frames in long relief.
In a few weeks, all major league clubs will need to reduce their respective rosters to 26 players. The Dodgers will face some critical decisions, as it’s very likely we’ll see some fluctuation in the bullpen. Players like Phillips, Justin Bruihl, Garrett Cleavinger and Mitch White could find themselves fighting for spots on the active roster.
The lefty Ferguson has two option years left on his contract, so the team could theoretically option him to the minors after he completes rehab. Kahnle, a righty, doesn’t have any options, so when he finishes his rehabilitation assignment, he’ll need to head right to the big-league roster.
According to recent reports, Kahnle could be joining the club before the end of April. Ferguson’s timeline is looking more like the middle of May.
Kahnle hasn’t thrown a full season of work since 2019 with the Yankees when he made 72 appearances, posting a 3.67 ERA and a 1.060 WHIP with 88 punchouts and 20 walks over 61-1/3 innings of work.
Kahnle’s best year as a big leaguer came in 2017 when he split time between the Rockies and White Sox as a 27-year-old, posting a combined 2.59 ERA with 96 strikeouts over 62-2/3 innings.
Now, at 32, the New York resident looks to get back on track in his final contract year with the Dodgers.
Kahnle allowed a pair of singles and struck out two in a scoreless inning for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night, the third game of his minor league rehab assignment.
Ferguson underwent UCL surgery in September of 2020. He was able to throw 2-2/3 innings during Cactus League play during spring training this year. He has yet to get into any rehab games, but that figures to be the final step before his return to the majors.
Ferguson was among the team’s most effective relievers in 2020, logging a 2.89 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP, a 27:3 K:BB ratio and five holds over 18-2/3 innings.
Southpaw reliever Victor Gonzalez, who has been dealing with left elbow inflammation since the end of spring camp, is on a similar timetable as Ferguson.