Caleb Ferguson was one of the most trusted pitchers in the deepest Dodgers bullpen in years, but his breakout season was cut short by an elbow injury that will likely knock him out for all of next year as well.
Ferguson struck out 27 and walked only three in his 21 games, the second-best strikeout rate (36 percent) and strikeout-minus-walk rate (32 percent) on the staff. His nine high-leverage appearances trailed only Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen on the team, and Ferguson’s entered his last five games in the eighth inning with the Dodgers either leading or tied. He earned his way into pitching in big roles late in games.
He had only one rough stretch, allowing home runs in three straight appearances in early September, but allowed an earned run in only one other game the entire season.
Ferguson handled both sides well, allowing a .628 OPS against left-handed batters. He actually had a higher strikeout rate (36.7 percent) and lower batting average (.191) and on-base percentage(.224) allowed against right-handers, though the opposite side hit all four home runs against him in 2020.
But Ferguson wasn’t a part of any of the action with the Dodgers in October. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow in a relief appearance in San Diego on September 15. That meant Tommy John surgery again for Ferguson, who also had the procedure in May 2014, his senior year in high school and a month before the Dodgers drafted him in the 38th round.
Ferguson wasn’t with the Dodgers during their championship run, but he was a key part of their season. Plus he got engaged, so his October wasn’t so bad after all.
Stats: 2.89 ERA (148 ERA+), 3.57 FIP, 27 K, 3 BB, 18⅔ IP
Game of the year
It was just his second game of the season, but Ferguson struck out the side in the seventh inning on July 28 in the first game of an emotionally charged series in Houston, the Dodgers’ first game against the Astros after offseason news of the extent of Houston’s sign stealing in the 2017 World Series.
Ferguson also pitched a perfect seventh inning the next night, striking out two, to help complete a two-game sweep.
Ferguson has two years, 93 days of service time, and will likely spend most if not all of the 2021 season after recovering from Tommy John surgery.