The Dodgers’ bullpen took a serious hit as a setup man on Friday DanielHudson He was most likely diagnosed with an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee at the end of the season, manager Dave Roberts told reporters after tonight’s game (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Juan Toribio). Hudson will undergo an additional wave of tests to confirm the diagnosis, but the team believes he has suffered a torn ligament. Hudson suffered the injury trying to set up a grounder but instead collapsed at the front of the hill.
Hudson’s loss is a gut punch for a Dodgers club that will already be left without a right-hander Blake Treinen until after the All-Star break due to shoulder problems. Hudson stepped up and filled Treinen’s role as the team’s best setup option, posting a brilliant 2.22 ERA with a 30.9% strikeout rate versus a 5.1% walk rate. He also has a career-best groundball rate of 53.2%, in no small part due to throwing his slider to a career-best 42.3% limit. A massive 80 percent of sliders coming into play against Hudson have been grounders so far this year.
The injury is particularly difficult for Hudson due to the nature of his contract. Righty, 35, has signed a one-year, $7 million deal with Los Angeles that includes a $6.5 million club option for the 2023 campaign. Based on how Hudson had served in the early months of the season, that option looked like a suspension that needed to be lifted. Now, after a serious knee injury, that seems a lot less likely. The contract also allowed Hudson to increase the value of that option based on his number of games completed, and with eight games already, he had a good chance of increasing that option value a bit.
Even with Treinen out for much of the season, the Dodgers’ assists have still combined for a 3.40 ERA that ranks ninth in the majors. They were even better as measured by the FIP, finishing third in the game with a 3.25 when they came into play on Friday. However, with Hudson out of the picture, the Los Angeles bullpen now consists mostly of inexperienced guns with minimal big league track records.
Right EvanPhillips was brilliant in 2022 (1.95 ERA in 27 2/3 innings) but started the season with a 6.68 ERA in 67 career frames. It’s the same for right-handers Yency Almonte. The Dodgers have once again received strong results from Righty Phil Bickford and left Alex Vesiabut each is only their second full big league season. Brusdar Graterol is playing a good season but not missing at-bats at the level one might expect from someone of his speed. Former Cy Young winner David Price was solid in a backup role that year and a former division rival Reyes Moronta has shown promise as he tries to re-establish himself after two seasons hampered by injury.
This group leads to the multiple All-Star Craig Kimbrellwho did not get the results he or the Dodgers were hoping for at the time of the trade in which the Dodgers and White Sox were traded AJ Pollock for Kimbrel. The 34-year-old Kimbrel fired off a scoreless inning tonight and has a 33.3% strikeout rate versus a 10.4% walk rate in 23 innings. However, after a strong start to the season, Kimbrel has given up runs in eight of his last 15 appearances. Today’s performance brought his ERA down to 4.30 and it should be noted that he is currently plagued by a sky-high .404 on balls in game (despite a very low 30.9% hard hit rate) . Kimbrel is likely in for a positive regression, but with him in something of a slump and the team’s two best setup options derailed by injury, the bullpen seems more questionable than expected.
Of course, this year’s August 2 trading deadline is still more than five weeks away, so the Dodgers won’t have time to address the issue when they see fit. And with Walker Buehler, Andrew Heney and Dustin May All currently on the injured list, the Dodgers could also be looking for rotation reinforcements once the trading market warms up.