The Dodgers’ bullpen might need a little more help than most had thought. Jimmy Nelson was slated to become a middle innings arm out of the bullpen, but his injuries have slowed him down. Nelson is not expected to be ready to go by Opening Day.
Jimmy Nelson threw a 17-pitch bullpen session, erratic command but felt healthy. Still extremely unlikely to make Opening Day roster.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) March 8, 2020
Despite throwing a pain-free bullpen session this weekend, Nelson is still a ways off. He had been experiencing some soreness in his lower body as described by Manager Dave Roberts earlier in spring camp. Nelson had been unable to get in bullpen sessions for the Dodgers up until this point.
The delay gives the Dodgers a little bit of flexibility in their roster decisions. Caleb Ferguson has been a force out of the bullpen in Spring Training, and the Nelson injury could leave the door open. Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin seemed destined to start the season at Triple-A, but this could help their cause.
Out of the two, Gonsolin makes the most sense as a bullpen option. Though the Dodgers view them both as starters long-term, May has had setbacks this spring that put him behind schedule. Gonsolin pitched very well out of relief for Los Angeles last season, and his pitch mix profiles well. His nasty splitter could be the difference-maker in a bullpen full of power arms in 2020.
It is unclear how much time Nelson will need to get right, but expect him to start the season on the injured list. The Dodgers signed Nelson to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million. The deal gets better for Nelson with performance incentives.