Kahnle, Ferguson Nearing Potential Returns to Los Angeles Bullpen

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.

To make those choices even more challenging, the Dodgers will have additional roster decisions to make when relievers Tommy Kahnle and Caleb Ferguson return from injury over the next several weeks.

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.

7 thoughts on “Kahnle, Ferguson Nearing Potential Returns to Los Angeles Bullpen

  1. There will definitely be some tough choices to make once Kahnle, Fergy and Vgon are all ready to come back. On the other hand, just when you think it will be impossible to decide who stays and who goes, injuries crop up or guys who have performed very well suddenly go into slumps. Always nice to have more good bullpen pieces than spaces to absorb them all.

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  2. I liked what I saw of Kahnle in spring. I also thought Ferguson looked pretty good. I am very impressed with the way Lux has played so far. I also have absolute faith in Bellinger coming around and being a force in the lineup.

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    1. Everyone wants Bellinger to succeed. He is making contact. If he can average above the Mendoza line his defense puts him in the line up. Lux is fulfilling his potential so far. Muncy may nurse that elbow all year. Robert’s hopefully will give him some breaks. The marine layer was evident last night Smith and a couple of Reds mashed the ball for longish outs in the mid innings.

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  3. Anderson has been very effective. Curious how Heaney does as he throws his new slider. In LA Times today article said Bauer was contemplating showing up to play. If Bauer comes back the Dodgers have more pitching decisions. If Kahnle returns as effective as in the past the Dodgers will be able to shorten the game more than currently.

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    1. If Bauer shows up tomorrow, that doesn’t mean the Dodgers give him a uniform.
      I’m guessing that if he shows, he’s ushered out of the locker room and goes straight to his attorney’s office to file some sort of legal brief.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I agree but looks like Bauer has decided to push for a decision which is good as the Commissioner is a study in procrastination!

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      2. I hope he does show up. Time for something to happen, even if it’s ugly.

        Bellinger is making contact. Good sign. He’s pulled the ball a few times. That’s good. I’d still like to see him bunt to the void, steal second, get moved over by a ground ball to the right side and score on a sac fly. Small ball run. Of course, I’d rather he lofted one 400’ into straight away right, and avoid all that other time consuming 1960 stuff. Big Fly. Score fast, score often. 2022. The Year of the Blue.

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