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Joel Peralta's improved September could earn him an NLDS roster spot

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- Joel Peralta was one of three Dodgers pitchers to throw a simulated game at Tuesday's workout at Dodger Stadium, and remains in the mix for a spot on the National League Division Series roster against the Mets.

Peralta threw one inning under the watchful eye of pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, facing batters Yasiel Puig, Alex Guerrero, Chris Heisey and Joc Pederson.

Brett Anderson threw three innings and approximately 56 pitches, and Juan Nicasio tossed an inning as well. Justin Ruggiano was also in the mix of batters during those innings.

That Peralta is even considered for a playoff roster spot would have been unfathomable in August, when he allowed five runs in a four-game stretch, including three home runs to just 17 batters faced in that span. Peralta went on the disabled list with a neck sprain that seemed more out of convenience than anything else, with his 5.40 ERA at the time and opposing batters hitting .293/.356/.488 against him.

But after his activation in September, Peralta allowed just two runs in nine innings, with 11 strikeouts and no walks.

"When he had the neck and the shoulder issues, there were obviously some things going on. When he came back, it seemed like the strength and the velocity has been better, and his stuff overall has been better," Honeycutt said. "You see his mixture."

In September Peralta averaged 91.15 mph on his four-seas fastball per Brooks Baseball, up from 89.54 mph the rest of the season. That was more in line with his 91.04 mph average from 2012-2014, when Peralta put up a 3.79 ERA and 3.41 FIP in 225 games with Tampa Bay, with a 29.3-percent strikeout rate.

Peralta's strikeout rate in September was 35.5 percent, compared to just 14.4 percent the rest of the season. He also missed 56 games in May and June with right shoulder soreness, but he's healthy now.

"He's a proven guy in the pen that's got playoff experience that you feel is not going to waver by any means," Honeycutt said. "He's shown to have stuff to get lefties and righties out, so that's another factor with the way the Mets' lineup is set up."

Manager Don Mattingly and the coaching staff are going through roster meetings with general manager Farhan Zaidi and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman on Tuesday, with it still up in the air whether the Dodgers will carry seven or eight relievers.

Kenley Jansen and Chris Hatcher are locks in the bullpen, as are lefties J.P. Howell and Luis Avilan. That essentially means Pedro Baez, Nicasio, Peralta and Yimi Garcia are fighting for the remaining three or four spots. Every one of those relief pitchers but Jansen pitched on Sunday, and Peralta pitched Friday as well.

At the very least, Mattingly thinks this year's relief corps is stronger than 2014.

"I feel more comfortable this year than last, with the guys the way they are throwing the ball right now," Mattingly said. "We're a little more structured, as far as knowing where we're going."