The Yankees have a walking liability in the bullpen right now

MLB: New York Yankees at San Diego Padres, caleb ferguson
David Frerker-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees face a challenging decision regarding Caleb Ferguson, the bullpen arm they acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers. At 27, Ferguson has shown potential but has struggled significantly early this season.

Struggles and Performance

Ferguson’s performance to date has been underwhelming. Over 17.1 innings pitched, he has accumulated a 5.71 ERA and a 4.68 FIP, alongside a strikeout rate of 10.90 per nine innings. However, his 55% left-on-base rate and 41.7% ground ball rate highlight issues in critical situations. More concerning are his 4.67 walks and 1.56 homers per nine innings, contributing to his inconsistent season.

In a recent outing against the San Diego Padres, Ferguson allowed two hits and an earned run in less than an inning, showcasing the ongoing challenges he faces in high-pressure moments.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees Need More From Ferguson

Manager Aaron Boone expressed regret over his decision to use Ferguson in that tight situation, hinting at a possible mismatch against the Padres’ lineup.

Ferguson’s pitch arsenal, predominantly a four-seam fastball used 61.3% of the time, has not been effective, yielding a .289 batting average and a .600 slugging percentage against him this year. His cutter, however, shows promise with a .050 batting average and slugging percentage against, suggesting potential if used more strategically. Without effective off-speed or breaking pitches, Ferguson’s reliance on his fastball can become predictable, making him vulnerable if the pitch is not performing.

Currently on a one-year, $2.4 million deal in arbitration, Ferguson will be a free agent next year. His current form could negatively impact his prospects for a future contract. While the Yankees are unlikely to release him—considering the resources invested in his acquisition and his past effectiveness—they expect significant improvements to justify his place in the bullpen. The team needs him to stabilize his performance and contribute more consistently, especially given the heavy reliance on their starting pitchers this season.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: