LOS ANGELES – One day this summer, Andrew Friedman let something slip. The Dodgers’ president of baseball operations typically shies away from grand proclamations or evaluations, but he grinned this time: The pitching staff he had down in Double-A Tulsa might be the best he’s seen at any minor-league level in his decades running baseball operations in Tampa Bay and Los Angeles.
“It was crazy,” Emmet Sheehan, who was part of that rotation, said this summer. “I felt like I was the only guy who couldn’t hit 100 (mph) there. … It almost made you numb to 97, 98 mph.”
It was only a matter of time until they matriculated to the majors. The first was Sheehan, who debuted before throwing a single pitch at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Landon Knack, Nick Frasso and Nick Nastrini (who has since been traded to the Chicago White Sox as part of the return for Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly) have already earned a bump to Triple A.
The next on the list will be Kyle Hurt, who the Dodgers will call up on Tuesday to help bolster a pitching staff that has emerged as a budding cause for concern, league sources told The Athletic. Hurt, whose call-up was first reported by ESPN, is expected to help out the club’s bullpen depth during the final stretch of the season.
The 25-year-old Hurt, a Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., native who starred at nearby USC, has blossomed since the club acquired him from the Miami Marlins (along with reliever Alex Vesia) for reliever Dylan Floro shortly before spring training in 2021.
He has certainly performed in at least one skill set that helps his case to be one of the 13 arms the Dodgers take into October. He misses bats. In 88 1/3 innings this season between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Hurt has struck out 145 hitters, touching 98 mph in bulk outings with stuff that could conceivably tick up further if utilized in shorter bursts. While being developed as a starter, he has been used almost exclusively in bulk following an opener since arriving in Triple A in early August.
Labels on pitching roles likely won’t matter much for the Dodgers in October as it is. Their starting pitching staff looks dramatically different than it did even at the beginning of this month.
Julio Urías is on paid administrative leave after being arrested last week on suspicion of felony corporal injury on a spouse; his locker in the home clubhouse at Dodger Stadium was occupied by veteran infielder Kolten Wong when the club returned home Monday from its six-game road trip.
Clayton Kershaw is pitching through lingering left shoulder trouble that has impacted his velocity and command. The Dodgers pushed back his start from Monday to Saturday in Seattle, though manager Dave Roberts insisted it is not related to the future Hall of Famer’s health.
Lynn, who is theoretically being lined up to be part of the club’s pitching plans, is in the midst of a career-worst season and has allowed an MLB-most 40 home runs this season.
Behind them, Bobby Miller has secured a significant role in the club’s October plans, but he is one of several rookies (Ryan Pepiot, Sheehan, Gavin Stone, Michael Grove and now Hurt) who could be among the 13 they chose from.
(Photo: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)