Eight years after he was drafted, sidearm left-hander Bryan Hudson made his major league debut in 2023 after signing a minor league deal with the Dodgers.
Hudson was picked in the third round out of high school by the Cubs in 2015. He made Triple-A in 2021, but might have done so sooner were it not for a pandemic canceling the minor league season in 2020. The 6’8 left-hander never reached the majors with the Cubs, and signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers in December 2022 with a non-roster invitation to spring training.
The left-hander excelled in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in 2023, and by mid-June had a 2.17 ERA with 51 strikeouts and a 41.1-percent strikeout rate in 29 innings for Oklahoma City. That earned Hudson his first-ever call to the majors on June 17, making his debut for the Dodgers at age 26.
Hudson retired his first three batters faced in the majors, pitching a scoreless eighth inning near the end of a blowout loss to the Giants at Dodger Stadium. In the ninth, Hudson allowed three runs on four hits and a walk, which were immaterial to the game. But no matter the result, Hudson was now a certified major leaguer.
In all, Hudson was active for a total of 15 games in his four different major league stints during the season, and appeared in six games for the Dodgers, all in low-leverage situations. Hudson entered games with deficits of 12, four, and two runs, and with leads of six, seven, and five runs.
Among the 29 non-position-players to pitch for the Dodgers in relief this season, Hudson’s average leverage index of 0.135 was 25th-highest (1.000 is average leverage, anything above 1.5 is considered higher leverage). It’s hard to glean much from those types of outings, except that Hudson was often a fresh arm who was available when the Dodgers needed it at various times during the season.
Hudson was the fifth of six pitchers to make their major league debut for the Dodgers during the season. His first game came one day after starter Emmet Sheehan made his own debut.
Riding the up-and-down between the majors and Triple-A the rest of the way, Hudson ended up allowing seven runs in his 8⅔ major league innings. His final numbers for Triple-A Oklahoma City remained impressive, with a 2.43 ERA in 46 games (the PCL had a 5.70 ERA as a league) with 86 strikeouts and a 35.7-percent strikeout rate in 55⅔ innings.
At 6’8, Hudson was the tallest Dodger in 2023, tied with fellow pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Chris Martin as the second-tallest Dodgers in franchise history. The only taller Dodger was Mark Hendrickson, the 6’9 pitcher who also played four seasons in the NBA.
Stats: 6 G, 7.27 ERA, 4.87 FIP, 8⅔ IP, 7 K, 4 BB
Game of the year
Hudson allowed at least one run in five of his six major league appearances. But on August 24 in Cleveland, Hudson pitched a perfect ninth inning to close out a win over the Guardians that began the evening before but was paused by rain.
Hudson has 17 days of major league service time, and two option years remaining.