9:39 pm: Hamels felt shoulder pain during a recent simulated game, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link).
9:17 pm: The Dodgers announced they’ve selected the contract of veteran reliever Neftalí Féliz. To create space on the 40-man roster, they placed left-hander Cole Hamels on the 60-day injured list. The move ends Hamels’ season before he could make an official appearance. Hamels recently suffered some form of arm injury, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link).
Additionally, Los Angeles recalled right-handed pitching prospect Andre Jackson to make his major league debut. Jackson was selected to the 40-man roster over the offseason to keep him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft, so no corresponding move was needed in that regard. To open active roster space, Darien Núñez and Edwin Uceta were optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Hamels missed almost all of last season with the Braves dealing with triceps and shoulder issues. He stayed on the free agent market for the entire offseason and the first half of the 2021 campaign before conducting a showcase in mid-July. That led to a one-year, $1MM deal with the Dodgers two weeks ago, with the hope that Hamels could build up as a late-season rotation option for Los Angeles. Unfortunately, he’s now dealing with another injury that’ll keep him from taking the mound in 2021.
There’ll surely be forthcoming updates on Hamels’ specific diagnosis and outlook. It’s not clear whether this latest issue stands to affect his readiness for the 2022 campaign. The 37-year-old will again hit free agency at the end of the season, and he’ll surely need to conduct another showcase for teams if he’s able and decides to pursue opportunities this winter.
What is clear is that Hamels’ setback will remove another potential starting pitching option for the Dodgers down the stretch. Los Angeles trails the Giants by four games in the NL West, and they were already without Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Danny Duffy and Tony Gonsolin due to injury (as well as Dustin May, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May). Kershaw, notably, did play catch today for the first time since being shut down due to forearm soreness (via Juan Toribio of MLB.com), although he’s still not expected back until September.
Féliz is back in the majors for the second time this season. The former All-Star appeared in two games for the Phillies in late June, his first big league action in four years. Féliz was tagged for four runs in an inning of work with Philadelphia before being let go. The 33-year-old latched on with the Dodgers on a minor league deal shortly thereafter.
The veteran righty has spent the past six weeks at Oklahoma City, pitching his way back to the bigs with a 3.38 ERA across 18 2/3 innings. That’s a continuation of the stellar work he logged at the minors’ highest level with the Phillies’ affiliate in Lehigh Valley. Between the two organizations, Féliz has a 2.45 ERA in Triple-A with a huge 38.8% strikeout rate and an average 9.7% walk percentage.
Jackson, meanwhile, is one of the better pitching prospects in the Dodgers’ system. He fell to the twelfth round in the 2017 draft after undergoing Tommy John surgery during his final season at the University of Utah, where he spent more time as an outfielder than he did on the mound. The righty made his professional debut the following year and struggled with his control, but he had a breakout 2019 season split between two levels of A-ball.
Each of Baseball America, Keith Law of the Athletic and Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs slotted Jackson among the Dodgers’ top fifteen minor leaguers either before or during the 2021 season. Evaluators praise his four-pitch mix and athleticism, with a general expectation he’ll continue to improve due to his relative lack of experience as a pitcher.
The 24-year-old has spent most of the year with Double-A Tulsa, pitching to 3.27 ERA across 63 1/3 innings. Jackson punched out a strong 29.6% of opponents while walking a career-low 7.9% of batters faced to earn his first big league call.