Dodgers’ Ferguson to make MLB debut vs. Pirates

The Los Angeles Dodgers, plagued by injuries among their starters, will give left-hander Caleb Ferguson his first major league start Wednesday in the second contest of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Ferguson, 21, has made a somewhat meteoric rise through the minor leagues after a setback when he was a teenager. He had Tommy John surgery as a senior at West Jefferson (Ohio) High School in May 2014, but Los Angeles took a chance by drafting him in the 38th round.

After more than a year of recovery and rehab, he returned during the 2015 season, making 14 appearances in Rookie League play. In 2016 he worked his way to Low A, and last year he spent the year with High-A Rancho Cucamonga.

He broke through this season.

In eight starts with Double-A Tulsa, Ferguson was 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 39 innings over eight starts. He recently got promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 12 strikeouts in eight innings over two starts.

“Whenever guys get drafted, you’re a professional in a professional clubhouse with other professional guys,” Ferguson told The Oklahoman recently. “You’re at the same level.

“The fact that they took a chance, I was ready to prove that the chance they took was right.”

Ferguson joined the Dodgers in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and is expected to be officially recalled Wednesday, with the team making a corresponding roster move.

He will face right-hander Trevor Williams (5-3, 3.84 ERA) against a Pittsburgh team that is reeling.

Los Angeles won its fourth in a row Tuesday in the series opener 5-0 to reach .500 at 30-30 by winning 14 of 18 games since May 17.

The Pirates, conversely, have lost three straight and fell to .500 for the first time this season at 30-30 by going 4-13 since they were a season-best nine games over .500 on May 17.

Tuesday marked the second straight shutout loss for Pittsburgh, which fell 5-0 on Sunday at St. Louis.

“It just boils down to week by week, month by month,” Pirates first baseman Josh Bell said. “Over the course of the season there are going to be ups and downs. This is just a rut that we’re in. Hopefully, we’re going to turn it around. If it’s not tomorrow, then it’s definitely going to be soon.”

Each team had a late lineup scratch Tuesday.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner had soreness in his left wrist, which he broke earlier this season. He is expected to be available Wednesday.

Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer was ill. He is the team’s third player in recent days to miss at least one game because of flu symptoms.

Williams has been one of Pittsburgh’s best starters but is 0-1 over his past three starts. That includes a no-decision Thursday at St. Louis, when he gave up five runs in five innings in a game the Cardinals took a 10-8 walk-off win.

“It’s baseball. As weird as that is, baseball is designed to break your heart,” Williams said after that game.

Williams has made two career starts against the Dodgers — both last season, going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA.