Yankees’ Caleb Ferguson hopes big outing vs. Dodgers helps propel him to next level

The roar from Caleb Ferguson was palpable.

He leaned forward after his 3-2 sweeper curled back toward the plate and then past Will Smith. He clenched his left fist. If the right one wasn’t covered by a glove, that likely would’ve been, too.

Facing a former team for the first time in his career, Ferguson extended a strong stretch as one of the Yankees’ top lefties out of the bullpen, silencing the heart of the Dodgers’ order — Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman and Smith — in a 1-2-3 eighth during their loss Friday.

Caleb Ferguson celebrates after retiring the Dodgers' top hitters in order in the eighth inning during the Yankees' loss on Friday night.
Caleb Ferguson celebrates after retiring the Dodgers’ top hitters in order in the eighth inning during the Yankees’ loss on Friday night. Robert Sabo for New York Post

Ferguson hasn’t allowed a run in 14 of his past 16 appearances, though he was surprised by that. He’s on pace to top 60 outings, with 25 in the Yankees’ first 66 games, for a second consecutive campaign.

And six weeks after manager Aaron Boone called Ferguson, who didn’t pitch in the Yankees’ 11-3 loss Saturday, an “important part of our pen,” the reliever has delivered on those expectations.

“It was just like, man, it’s the best part of their lineup, the manager puts me in that game in a tie game, it’s a big spot, your manager’s showing a ton of trust in you,” Ferguson told The Post, acknowledging that Boone could’ve pivoted in another direction based on his “track record” this season of not pitching as well as expected.

But Ferguson had never experienced the emotions of facing his former MLB team before.

He was drafted in the 38th round by the Dodgers in 2014, recovered from Tommy John surgery and gradually — step by step and minor-league affiliate by minor-league affiliate — cracked the majors.

At first, he wanted to become a starter — a dream that hasn’t necessarily faded even at this point, Ferguson said.

Yankees reliever Caleb Ferguson celebrates after getting out of the eighth inning in Friday's loss to the Dodgers.
Yankees reliever Caleb Ferguson celebrates after getting out of the eighth inning in Friday’s loss to the Dodgers. Robert Sabo for New York Post

A role materialized in the bullpen, though, and he turned that into a stable stretch with the Dodgers before being acquired by the Yankees ahead of the 2024 season.

“I think being a starting pitcher is a privilege,” Ferguson said. “There’s a reason starters are starters, and I think that’s something that’s really cool. But sometimes it feels just as cool to get the big outs in the back end of a game, too.”

In the latest sample, Ferguson fired two strikes to Ohtani and then got the Dodgers’ superstar to fly out.

He battled through a pair of foul balls by Freeman and induced a lineout, too. Then came the strikeout against Smith, who was in his wedding party when they were teammates.

Ferguson still hasn’t pitched as well as he wants.

There was a brutal seventh inning against the Rays last month.

He still thinks he’s a pitch or two away. But recently, Ferguson has felt as if he’s “trending in the right direction.”

The latest glimpse just happened to unfold against his former team.

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