Dodgers reliever Daniel Hudson is returning after his 2022 season was cut short by a torn ACL in his left knee. The veteran righty had been one of the most efficient arms in the sport up to that point, working to a 2.22 ERA with a 30.9% strikeout rate in 24 1/3 innings. Los Angeles rolled the dice on his return to form last September, signing Hudson to a $6.5 million contract this year with a matching base salary in 2024.
That positions Hudson for a potential high-leverage relief role, though he may not be ready right out of the gate. Governor Dave Roberts told reporters this afternoon that Hudson’s availability for Opening Day is questionable (relayed by Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times). While he’s seemingly through ACL rehab, the 13-year veteran was delayed in camp after battling ankle tendinitis over the winter.
There seems to be no cause for serious concern. Roberts reported that Hudson has progressed to high-intensity sessions in recent days. The issue may just have kept him in camp long enough, and he may not be ready for regular-season action in a month, though there’s no indication he’ll face any long-term injury limitations.
A healthy Hudson would be an option for late work as Roberts sorts out the bullpen hierarchy. Evan Phillips, Brusdar Graterol and Alex Vecia they also seem like locks for high-leverage roles. Players love it Shelby Miller, Yency Almonte and Jimmy Nelson they could advance to key holdings.
Hudson and Nelson each missed much or all of last season recovering from injury. The Dodgers have shown a tolerance for injury risk when taking upside games with their bullpen. Los Angeles also expanded Blake Trainen (a move that seems unfortunate in light of subsequent shoulder surgery that will cost him most or all of the upcoming season) and recently hit the former Cardinals closer Alex Reyes. The Dodgers guaranteed him $1.1 million in an incentivized free agent deal, securing a $3 million club option for 2024 in the process.
Reyes builds back from a shoulder procedure of his own. He went under the knife to repair a torn labrum last May and was never considered an Opening Day option. According to MLB.com, Reyes has regularly thrown from flat ground, but is not expected to reach a mound until the end of this month at the earliest. Bullpen sessions would be the harbinger of a possible minor league rehab assignment. Reyes will certainly need several weeks between his first job and a potential return as he builds strength after nearly 18 months since his last game action. It’s a promising mid-season boost.
Sticking to the topic of Los Angeles pitchers’ rehab, Roberts told the All Star starter Walker Buehler made some shots from 60 feet yesterday (via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register). It’s the first step in a long build to a pitching program for the righty, who underwent his second career Tommy John surgery last August. He is now just over six months removed from that procedure and appears to be well on his way to recovery. The Dodgers haven’t closed the door on Buehler possibly returning in relief at the end of the season, though it’s still too early in the process to tell if that will pan out.
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