The Dodgers are calling up right-hander Kyle Hurt from Triple-A Oklahoma City, the latest in a long line of strikeout pitchers from the minors that the team has utilized this season.
Victor González was optioned, and Gus Varland was moved to the 60-day injured list to make roster room for Hurt.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are calling up Kyle Hurt, a RHP prospect with the highest strikeout rate in the minors this year, sources tell ESPN. Monster fastball, tons of swing-and-miss on secondaries and 145 Ks in 88.1 innings between AA and AAA. He'll work out of the bullpen.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 12, 2023
Hurt on Monday was named Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week after pitching five scoreless innings last Thursday, with six strikeouts. Hurt with Oklahoma City has a 3.09 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 23⅓ innings, after spending the first four months of the season in Double-A Tulsa.
The Dodgers acquired the former USC pitcher Hurt along with Alex Vesia from the Marlins in February 2021 for reliever Dylan Floro.
On the season, the 25-year-old Hurt between the two levels has a 3.87 ERA with 145 strikeouts — most among Dodgers minor league pitchers — and 41 walks in 88⅓ innings. His 39-percent strikeout rate and 28-percent strikeout-minus-walk rate are tops in the minors among all pitchers with at least 80 innings.
Lowering the threshold to 60 minor league innings, the only strikeout rate in the minors higher than Hurt this year was by Emmet Sheehan (41 percent), who was called up directly from Double-A on June 16 and has a 5.79 ERA in 46⅔ innings in the majors this season.
Aside from Sheehan, Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone also made their major league debuts this season, as did relievers Bryan Hudson and (the since-traded) Nick Robertson. Rookies Miller, Sheehan, Stone, Michael Grove, and Ryan Pepiot have combined for 45 starts and 256⅓ innings this year, with a 5.34 ERA. All have experienced growing pains, though for Pepiot only in the literal sense with a strained intercostal muscle that sidelined him for over three months. But on the mound Pepiot has been great, allowing two runs in 21 innings in his four games with the Dodgers. It would be a shock if he’s not pitching in the playoffs.
Hurt is technically available to pitch in the postseason as well, as he was in the Dodgers organization before September 1. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Dodgers need to fill innings over the final 19 games of the regular season, especially if they keep kicking the can down the road on when Clayton Kershaw might start next, among other things.
If they can get Hurt some major league experience along the way, for someone who was going to be added to the 40-man roster this November anyway, all the better.
The Dodgers will need to make a corresponding move to make room for Hurt on the 40-man roster, but they have numerous options. Relievers Gus Varland and Wander Suero were each placed on the 15-day injured list in the last two days, and moving either one to the 60-day IL leaves them in the same spot as before in terms of availability this season.
But most importantly, bringing Kyle Hurt to the majors means a possibility of more than one photo of him in our database, a generic posed shot from the Arizona Fall League in 2021. This is what really matters.