Pitching depth has been a big focus for the Los Angeles Dodgers front office in recent years, and that was a big reason why they signed former Milwaukee Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson to a one-year contract this past offseason.
Nelson had a breakout season in 2017 but then was limited to just 10 games in 2018 and 2019 after undergoing shoulder surgery.
The 30-year-old reported to Camelback Ranch for Spring Training fully healthy and ready to compete for a spot in the rotation. But in the first few days of camp, he developed back and groin trouble that limited him.
While the injuries are considered minor and he was able to resume his throwing program, getting back on the mound for a bullpen, Nelson suffered a bit of a setback and had to be shut down from throwing last week.
After a handful days on inactivity, it appears Nelson has improved to the point where he can resume throwing, although Dodgers manager Dave Roberts ruled out the possibility of him making the Opening Day rotation, via Rowan Kavner of Dodger Insider:
Jimmy Nelson (back/groin) began to play catch and is starting up a throwing program. Roberts said the best case scenario for Nelson after missing the start of spring with injury is to come out of camp healthy in the bullpen, then building up his arm as the season goes on.
As it currently stands, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Julio Urias are all locks to make the rotation if healthy. That leaves one final spot that Alex Wood, Ross Stripling and Tony Gonsolin are now competing for.
Nelson and Dustin May were also both candidates but can now be ruled out due to the injuries they have been dealing with.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman previously said the team potentially sees Nelson in a Brandon Morrow role if he doesn’t make the rotation, so it appears they will follow through with that plan.
As Roberts alluded to though, Nelson will likely be built up throughout the course of the season so he can join the rotation if needed. The Dodgers had 11 different pitchers start a game for them in 2019, and having an option as talented as Nelson as a depth piece should be a benefit.
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