in

The Potential Future of Caleb Ferguson for 2019 and Beyond

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 04: Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Caleb Ferguson (64) throws a pitch during Game 1 of the 2018 National League Division Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 4, 2018 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA.

Caleb Ferguson was one of the bright spots in the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2018 and is looking to repeat his production and hopefully build on it in 2019.

Boasting a fantastic 3.17 DRA and 29.2 K%, Ferguson proved himself.

Well-respected prospect evaluator, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, had some interesting points to make regarding Ferguson’s current state and his future as a major leaguer.

In this thread from Future Dodgers are some quotes about other young Dodger pieces, but the question referring directly to Ferguson is the bottom right question.

What are your thoughts on Caleb Ferguson? He’s not on the BIG BOARD. Is he a 45 guy with a chance of being a back end starter or do you see a higher/lower ceiling there?

McDaniel notes that Ferguson’s ceiling as a 45 Future Value (FV) prospect may be realized as a setup man, which is interesting considering Ferguson’s background. Ferguson came up to the big leagues as a starter, what he was throughout the duration of his minor league career. However, Ferguson proved to be a viable bullpen piece at the major league level after a slew of awful spot starts. Dave Roberts trusted Ferguson in high-leverage situations at the end of the season, allowing him to set up closer Kenley Jansen on numerous occasions.

Caleb Ferguson in 2019

As we head into the 2019 campaign, it appears Ferguson will be worked out as a reliever which is probably the right move for him and his future. His stuff played up in a bullpen role because he truly lacks a reliable third pitch and saw a sizable velocity spike.

Ferguson utilized a fastball that he threw around 72% of the time and a curve that he threw for 25% of his offerings. A similar pitch breakdown is most likely to be expected in 2019, should Ferguson make the club out of Spring Training.

Something that is fantastic to see out of a young 22-year-old arm like Ferguson is his near elite spin rate marks. Ferguson ranked in the 92nd percentile with his fastball and in the 64th percentile with his curve according to Baseball Savant. The fastball is his pitch and it ranked 17th in all of Major League Baseball with 2824 RPM. The only Dodger to rank higher was Rich Hill

Although the organization still views him as a starter, the amount of depth the Dodgers possess in their starting pitching corps pushes the odds of Ferguson ever being a starter for LA to very slim.

Arsenal

In the minors, Ferg typically sat in the 91-93 mph range but in the Dodgers’ bullpen, he sat closer to 93-95 mph and hit as high as 97 on the radar gun. Overall, his fastball velocity increased as the season progressed. In June, his average velocity was 93.5 mph compared to a 95.5 mph average in September.

Each of these true pluses in Ferguson’s peripherals leads me to believe that Ferg will play an enormous role for the Dodgers in 2019. The Steamer projection system has him in for a 3.53 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 2019 but I fully expect him to outperform both of those numbers.

Output

His numbers against right-handed bats were quite intriguing considering he is a lefty. Although his ERA is a bit inflated against RHH (3.99), Ferguson managed a 12.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 against them, both elite numbers. He was just as good against lefties with a 2.75 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. The idea that Ferg can pitch effectively to both righties and lefties make him a potentially invaluable asset.

Something else that is important to note is just how inflated Ferguson’s final numbers were. A 7.59 ERA across 10 2/3 innings as a starter are to blame. Ferguson posted a stellar 2.35 ERA out of the bullpen across 38 1/3 frames, which is more of an accurate representation of where Ferguson is at.

High Hopes

C-Ferg is just 22 years of age and already has elite marks under his belt at the major league level.

Let’s hope we see more of the same from Ferguson in 2019 because the bullpen needs consistency. It is truly not of the question that Ferguson could post a sub-3.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP this season. It is also not out of the realm of possibility that he locks down the 8th inning job as his own.

We shall see what becomes of Ferguson not just in 2019, but beyond. The future is bright with #64.

[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-updated-draft-positioning/2019/01/31/” type=”big” color=”red”] Dodgers’ Updated Draft Positioning[/button]

Written by Daniel Preciado

My name is Daniel Preciado and I am 18 years old. I am a sophomore Sport Analytics major and Cognitive Science and Economics dual minor at Syracuse University. When I am not in New York, I live in Whittier, California --- not too far from Chavez Ravine. I am pretty old-school for being an analytics guy and I will always embrace debate. Also, Chase Utley did absolutely nothing wrong.

6 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. I think a 45 value for Caleb Ferguson is ridiculous! Did evaluators actually pay attention to the progress he made last season as a pitcher?

  2. As long as the team goes slow and steady with Caleb, I am fine. I was most impressed with his BP work last season, and would not be surprised to see him starting games as the season evolves. A big, tall lefty who can deliver a pitch at 95-97 mph can throw for my team any day. Kersh, Buehler, Hill, Urias, Strips, and Caleb : that is not a bad rotation. Go Blue!!!

  3. Caleb has nothing but upside……..i also believe he can be an elite starter. Let’s hope they do not trade him.The entire Dodger pitching last season was great and still it is largely over looked. They had the lowest OPS in baseball last season even without Morrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Dodgers: The Long Goodbye To Yasiel Puig

Dodgers: Keith Law’s Take on a Realmuto Trade