Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
After suffering a torn ACL in late June of last season, Daniel Hudson returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen this past week in the midst of a growing need for reliable arms.
Since signing with the Dodgers, Hudson has proven to be a strong contributor, posting a 1.98 ERA, 2.14 FIP and 0.99 WHIP over parts of two seasons thus far. The Dodgers bullpen has been void of consistency this year, resulting in the team calling on several inexperienced, or struggling arms to fill innings.
Dodgers relievers dealing with inconsistent performance has made for a stressful first half, but with the return of Hudson, his experience was needed to close out Wednesday’s game. Harboring a 6-4 lead, the veteran struck out Jack Suwinksi to end the game.
Taking the final at-bat to a full count with two outs and bases loaded was as drama-filled as it could get for Hudson, trying to ease his way back. The 36-year-old discussed how he navigated the final batter with the possible go-ahead run on base, via SportsNet LA:
“As cliché as it sounds, I’m just trying to make one big pitch and trying to let my defense play behind me. I got a couple shots to get a couple punchouts right there, and I just took it. I didn’t want to make a mistake and leave it in the zone. I figured I’d take a walk and a run right there and just go after the next guy if it happens. Luckily, got a check-swing and we got out of there.”
The full-count slider induced a swing that ended the game and provided the Dodgers with a much-needed win after Evan Phillips blew a save on Tuesday. Hudson has the ability to be a key arm for the bullpen, and his understanding to not give in during the final at-bat proved to be the decider:
“That was a lot of fun. I would’ve liked for it to have been more easy than that, but we’re still getting the hang of this thing. I’m just proud to be out there and help the team out.”
Hudson recorded his previous save with the Dodgers on June 8 of last season, and prior to his knee injury, all signs were pointing to him being the frontrunner for the closer role in 2023. Being back in that type of situation was one Hudson reveled in:
“Yeah, for sure. I missed that.”
In three outings since being activated from the injured list, Hudson hasn’t allowed a run in three innings pitched, while notching five strikeouts with just two hits against. With Phillips at his absolute best when deployed in a fireman role when the big moment happens, Roberts has another big right-hander to turn to in Hudson.
Early impressions of Daniel Hudson
As Hudson continues to work himself back into the fold and gains a feel for big league time, his stuff will return to form. But early on, Hudson’s fastball is down a tick from his prior two seasons, which is not uncommon for a pitcher building his arm up.
His spin rates and movement on both his four-seam and slider are both in-line with last year’s averages, which impressed even himself. The command on his slider will improve, but with such sharp break, it’s getting the job done in limited action.
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