LOS ANGELES — Dodgers right-hander Daniel Hudson on Wednesday recorded his first major league save in one year, 27 days. But in doing so sprained the MCL in his right knee, and was placed on the 15-day injured list before Thursday’s game against the Pirates.
“I can’t put into words how frustrating, how disappointing this is for him,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s going to be quite some time.”
Hudson felt something in his right knee on his 28th pitch of the night on Wednesday. His 29th pitch was a slider that got Jack Suwinski swinging to fully escape a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the ninth inning and finish off a 6-4 victory.
“He gutted it out,” Roberts said. “I don’t know how he made those last two pitches.”
This is the other knee for Hudson, who tore the ACL in his left knee last June and had season-ending surgery. The right-hander was slowed this spring by right ankle tendinitis suffered while rehabbing the left knee. His appearance last Friday in Kansas City was Hudson’s first major league game in a year and six days.
Hudson’s return gave the Dodgers another trusted arm at the back end of a bullpen that has struggled all season. Hudson was emotional after picking up the save on Wednesday, as noted by Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic and Jorge Castillo at the Los Angeles Times in their game stories. But it’s clear now Hudson wasn’t just processing his first save in 392 days, but rather another long road of rehabilitation in a career full of setbacks.
Hudson has pitched 14 years in the majors, ten of them after his second Tommy John surgery. The man knows perseverance.
Roberts didn’t want to speculate on the length of Hudson’s injury, saying only that he’s hopeful Hudson will be able to return this season, and that surgery is not under consideration at the moment.. The Dodgers hold a $6.5-million club option in 2024 on the right-hander, who turns 37 next March.
“You finally get to a point where you’ve gotten back, the highest of highs of getting save, but then fall back when the adrenaline finally settles in, and you realize you’re back on the IL and you’re going to miss a significant amount of time,” Roberts said. “My heart breaks for him. He could have walked away last year, but committed to coming back. For it to end right now the way it did, it hurts.”
Hudson’s IL move came at the same time as Yency Almonte going on the paternity list after his wife Tori gave birth to their first child on Thursday morning. Almonte is the sixth Dodger to take paternity leave during this season, believed to be a major league record in the 13 years of the league policy.
Taking their spots on the active roster are right-hander Nick Robertson and Alex Vesia, who were recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Vesia last pitched on Monday, throwing 16 pitches, and Robertson last pitched on Tuesday, throwing 22 pitches.
Brusdar Graterol is dealing with shoulder soreness, but doesn’t appear to be headed for the injured list. Roberts said Graterol also felt the soreness after a June 27 outing in Colorado, but he didn’t pitch for the next three days and felt fine after that.
Graterol pitched Saturday and Monday, and has been off the last two days. He threw before Thursday’s game, then after workouts on the field gave Roberts the thumbs up on his way back to the clubhouse.
An injured-list stint backdated to Tuesday would mean Graterol could return as early as Wednesday, July 19, and eight more games missed.
The Dodgers brought starting pitcher Landon Knack up from Triple-A to the taxi squad in case Graterol needed to be placed on the IL. Knack, if used, would likely fill a role similar to Gavin Stone, who covered two innings in relief in Tuesday’s game.
Any sort of length from pitchers is coveted by the Dodgers at the moment, trying to get through these last three games before the All-Star break, and they are pulling out all the stops. They even pushed back Noah Syndergaard’s simulated game, which was originally planned for Thursday.
“Depending on what happens tonight, we want coverage tomorrow and the next day,” Roberts said. “There’s a crazy scenario that Noah might be in play.”