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With Paco Rodriguez hurt, Dodgers have limited LHP options in September

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Dilip Vishwanat

SAN DIEGO -- When roster limits expand on Monday, don't expect any in-house left-handed relief options to join the Dodgers. a Paco Rodriguez is still hurt, Jarret Martin is on the 40-man roster but not really on the radar, and lightning in a bottle Julio Urias isn't likely to jump three levels.

Rodriguez is dealing with a strain of the teres major muscle in his upper back, the same injury that sidelined Clayton Kershaw for six weeks after the trip to Australia in March. Rodriguez last pitched on Aug. 3. He threw off a mound on Wednesday in Arizona but felt some discomfort afterwards.

"Putting a time on him would be tough for me. I don't think medical has a real timetable. I know he's moving forward. He's still having some effects. He's a little like Kersh in the sense of he's throwing and moving up, but he's still having these little effects," manager Don Mattingly said on Friday. "It's not like he went backwards, but part of this is just a matter of time, and when that time is going to be we're just not sure."

Unless general manager Ned Colletti can swing a trade for a left-handed pitcher by Sunday's 9 p.m. PT deadline, the Dodgers will head into the season's final month with a single southpaw, J.P. Howell, in their bullpen, as they have done for most of the season.

The Dodgers also use the right-handed Jamey Wright in some situations against left-handed batters, who have hit .194/.267/.233 against him this season and just .222/.320/.316 over the last six seasons.

"Jamey Wright makes it less of a concern, just because he's been the guy who's gotten lefties out," Mattingly said. "Would you like to have another lefty coming up and firing? Sure, but I don't think you bring up any lefty just because he's lefty."

The other healthy left-handed pitcher on the 40-man roster is Martin, who had an underwhelming season overall in Double-A Chattanooga with 46 walks in 54 innings, though he did hold lefties to hitting just .183/.307/.250 with nine walks and 20 strikeouts in 76 plate appearances.

"I think he finished the season strong, guys are happy with that," Mattingly said. "But I don't think this is the spot for him right now."

That leaves us with the most intriguing option in Urias, the Dodgers' top pitching prospect and a top-20 prospect in all of baseball. He dominated Class-A this season with Rancho Cucamonga, with a 2.36 ERA, 109 strikeouts and 37 walks in 87⅔ innings.

Left-handed batters hit just .175/.283/.247 against him, with 32 strikeouts and 11 walks in 113 plate appearances.

But Urias also just turned 18, and while he might have the stuff to get major league hitters out he would be pitching in relief in an unfamiliar role after being used to a starter's routine.

"It could be good, it could be fine. It just wouldn't be fair to him," Mattingly said. "There are times when guys come up here and it puts them backwards. It sends them going in the wrong direction. Dee [Gordon] is a pretty good example of that. He got here pretty quick and maybe before he was ready. It was a few years later before he finally matured."

In other words, look for the Dodgers to stand pat, at least from the left side.