With righty reliever Daniel Hudson going down to what is possibly a season-ending knee injury on Friday night, many fans of the Dodgers are wondering how the team plans to compensate over the long term.
Hudson threw for Los Angeles in the eighth inning of Friday’s series opener against the Braves and seemingly pulled something in his leg when he reacted to a dribbler off the bat of Ronald Acuna Jr.
The 35-year-old Hudson immediately fell to the ground in pain and needed the assistance of two trainers to leave the field.
In the post-game press conference, skipper Dave Roberts conceded that the injury is likely season-ending.
Earlier in the week, lefty Caleb Ferguson, who was conceivably a legitimate setup option, was placed on the 15-day injured list with left forearm tendinitis.
Blake Treinen has begun throwing, long tossing up to 120 feet last week for the first time since he went on the injured list on April 22. There is no concrete timeline for the 33-year-old righty, but the general feeling is that he could possibly be ready at some point after the All-Star break.
Treinen and Hudson had been the team’s optimal setup men entering the 2022 season. However, closer Craig Kimbrel, who has not exactly been the prototypical model of consistency, is now sitting alone at the backend of the bullpen.
There are some internal late-inning options, including Yency Almonte, Phil Bickford and Brusdar Graterol, but each seems to have their own sets of faults. Bickford hasn’t been anywhere nearly as effective as he was last year, and Graterol still can’t find the ability to miss bats, despite topping out on the radar gun at 103 MPH.
Dustin May will likely return at some point after the All-Star break, and he could help the team in a relief role. May appears to be on pace after throwing a live batting practice session this week.
Nevertheless, the club will certainly need to acquire several relief arms as the trade deadline approaches. Who the club pursues and what resources the organization parts with could be a good indicator of how much the trust management has for Kimbrel heading into the home stretch of the season.
At the very least, the team will need to acquire a legitimate setup man or eighth-inning guy, ideally someone who also has experiencing closing.
In the past, front-office boss Andrew Friedman has typically not been willing to sacrifice too much for a bullpen piece — at least until he dealt AJ Pollock for Kimbrel — but this year could be a lot different.
For as many diamonds in the rough the team has found in the bargain bins and lower levels of the minors in previous seasons, the pasture may be a bit barren this year.