LOS ANGELES -- We had a pretty good idea that Tuesday's Dodgers starter was someone who pitched for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday, but it wasn't Scott Baker. Instead, the Dodgers will call on David Huff to start against the Mariners on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Huff, a non-roster invitee to spring training signed to a minor league contract on January 9, was told of the news on Saturday and flew to Los Angeles on Sunday. The Dodgers will officially add Huff to the 40-man roster on Tuesday.
Though mentioned during spring training as a possible candidate for this start, the first time the Dodgers need a fifth starter, Huff wasn't thinking about that as a possibility when he was told he didn't make the opening day roster.
"When I got bad news, I was a little disappointed. It is what it is," Huff said Monday. "I was just concentrating on pitching in OKC and when my next outing was going to be."
Huff struck out four in his three innings on Thursday, allowing a run on three hits while throwing 50 pitches, 33 for strikes.
"I went in there and felt maybe two pitches weren't located well, and I threw maybe 50. I was pretty happy with it," Huff said. "I noticed guys weren't taking good swings on the fastballs so I stuck with that instead of trying to get cute and going with something else. I stayed aggressive, and went after them."
Scott Baker, signed by the Dodgers to a minor league deal on April 5, was also a candidate for Tuesday's start, and also pitched well Thursday. Baker started and struck out six in his five innings, also allowing a run on three hits.
The other Oklahoma City starters — Zach Lee, Carlos Frias, Mike Bolsinger and Joe Wieland — are all on the 40-man roster but because they were optioned to the minor leagues can't be recalled to the majors until Wednesday unless replacing an injured player, the 10-day rule.
But one factor in the left-handed Huff's favor was that five Mariners regulars are left-handed - Robinson Cano, Logan Morrison, Kyle Seager, Brad Miller and Dustin Ackley - plus Seth Smith is in a platoon in the outfield.
"As we kept looking at these guys over here, we just felt he'd be a better option than a righty," manager Don Mattingly said Monday.
Another factor in Huff's favor is that the Dodgers don't need another fifth starter until April 25, and after that possibly not again until May 5 if the team chooses to maneuver accordingly using off days. Huff has had success in relief appearances, while Baker fits better in a starting role and would essentially be wasted on the roster for the better part of the next three weeks.
Huff is out of options, having used them in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He likely slots in as the long man in the bullpen after his Tuesday spot start, though Mattingly was unwilling to commit beyond Tuesday at this point.
"Let's get through tomorrow and see where we're at," Mattingly said. "We haven't talked much past tomorrow."
Huff was 4-1 with a 3.36 ERA in 46 relief appearances with the Giants and Yankees in 2014, with 39 strikeouts and 23 walks in 59 innings. He has made 54 starts in his six-year career, but only two since the beginning of 2013. He said he wasn't thinking about the Tuesday start last Thursday in Oklahoma City.
"Honestly with all the moves that they've made, I've stopped thinking about that stuff. They have a method to their madness. They're smart, they know what they're doing, that's why they're in the position they are in," Huff said. "I'm not in that position so I don't know what they're doing, and I choose to just focus on one thing."
The Dodgers will need to make a corresponding Tuesday move to add Huff to the active roster.
Huff's longest outing during spring training was 3⅓ innings. Asked how long he expects to pitch on Tuesday, Huff didn't give a number.
"I'm just trying to go as long as I can until my body literally quits," Huff said with a smile. "I'll try to get as many outs as I can, trying to give the bullpen a little rest."