How many starting pitchers will Dodgers keep?

USA TODAY Sports

Was eight enough for the Dodgers? We'll find out in about a week.

Josh Beckett gets the call for the Dodgers on Sunday against the Athletics in Phoenix, and he will get the call for the Dodgers in the third game of the regular season, on Apr. 3 against the Giants. The only question is, just how many starting pitchers will join him on the active roster.

The release of Mark Lowe on Sunday leaves four relief pitchers vying for one of likely two bullpen spots, in Josh Wall, Paco Rodriguez, Kevin Gregg, and Peter Moylan. But that quartet is also competing with Chris Capuano, Ted Lilly, and Aaron Harang, all looking for a spot on the roster as well.

Heading into spring training with eight starters, manager Don Mattingly didn't expect there to still be eight standing in the final week, and he said it wasn't farfetched to keep some of the excess starters around.

"I think we have the ability to hold onto more," Mattingly said Sunday.

With five starters defined and five relievers locked into the bullpen (Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, Ronald Belisario, Matt Guerrier, and J.P. Howell), keeping all three of Lilly, Capuano, and Harang would mean a 13-man pitching staff, a number too unwieldy on a 25-man roster for Mattingly's tastes.

"It's not the best scenario in the National League. In the American League you could get away with it," Mattingly said. "We're in a situation with Carl Crawford, coming back off the elbow and stuff, if we're in a tie game or have a one-run lead in the ninth, I would think about defending in left field to get a guy who can throw the baseball and legitimately have a chance to throw somebody out."

Mattingly did say that with Jerry Hairston Jr. spending some time at third base with Hanley Ramirez on the disabled list, he would prefer an outfielder to round out the bench. That could bode well for either Alex Castellanos or Yasiel Puig.

But it's possible that two of the excess starters could make the roster in the bullpen, and maybe even three if Chad Billingsley's right index finger lands him on the disabled list to open the season. Mattingly did say he needs to speak to his pitchers before asking them to move into a relief role, letting them "mentally wrap their arms around it."

"Pitching is pitching. If you're going to get three outs, you'll get three outs," Mattingly said. It's just how you get them ready."

Notes

  • The Dodgers on Friday signed 16-year-old right-handed pitcher Jesus Canizales out of Trujillo, Venezuela.
  • Scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers after Beckett are Guerrier, Rodriguez, Gregg, and Belisario. The Dodgers also brought along minor league pitchers Geison Aguasviva (No. 87) and Steve Smith (No. 88).
  • Other players from the minor league side in uniform for the Dodgers on Sunday are infielders Scott Van Slyke (No. 94), Ozzie Martinez (No. 64), and Rusty Ryal (No. 83); and outfielders Matt Angle (No. 82) and Brian Cavazos-Galvez (No. 84).
  • Also scheduled to pitch for Oakland after A.J. Griffin on Sunday are Grant Balfour, Jerry Blevins, Mike Ekstrom, and Hideki Okajima.
  • The Rockies on Sunday signed old friend Jon Garland, who asked for and was granted his release from a minor league contract with the Mariners earlier in the week. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports says Garland gets a base salary of $500,000,

Game info

Time: 1:05 p.m. PT

TV: Comcast Bay Area

Radio: KTNQ (Spanish); MLB.com (A's broadcast)

MLB Gameday

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