LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly wouldn't confirm Saturday's starting pitcher, but it looks like Brandon Beachy is no longer an option. Zach Lee is a candidate, but even with Lee the Dodgers could opt for a bullpen game against the Brewers.
Though it would in theory be a bullpen game in name only, with a relief pitcher starting, going one or two innings, followed by four or five innings from the "starter." The Dodgers, for instance, won't plan for a series of one- or two-inning stints from their pitchers.
"It could turn into [a bullpen game] I guess but that's not really our thought process at this point," Mattingly said. "Wherever we put [the starter] in the game, that's where we want him to pitch, at least four innings."
The Dodgers have tried this strategy twice - Ian Thomas followed Juan Nicasio on June 2 in Colorado, and Eric Surkamp followed Yimi Garcia on Monday against Philadelphia. Both starting relievers lasted two innings; Thomas ended up pitching three innings, and Surkamp lasted 3⅓ innings.
Beachy would have been in line for Saturday, and talked about earlier this week as a possibility, but instead will continue his rehab assignment on Sunday in Triple-A Oklahoma City. Mattingly confirmed that Beachy is no longer in the conversation for Saturday.
"We're happy with where Brandon is at. He's feeling good. But I don't think we're ready to just throw him in the fire," Mattingly said. "It could happen I guess, but we haven't talked about him that much. It's about getting him ready to go and making sure he's good for the long haul."
Beachy, recovering from Tommy John surgery, last pitched in a major league game on Aug. 20, 2013. He last pitched Monday for Triple-A Oklahoma City, throwing 93 pitches in six innings, allowing five runs (three earned runs) on nine hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Pitching him on Sunday would give Beachy an extra day of rest for the first time on his rehab assignment, which started on June 16.
Rehab assignments for pitchers can last 30 days, and Beachy's clock is up on July 15. That means, barring a setback, the Dodgers have to activate him from the 60-day disabled list by next Thursday (July 16), necessitating a corresponding 40-man roster move. Whether Beachy is then added to the rotation is an open question. He can be optioned.
Lee has also been on a rehab assignment after missing a month after experiencing tingling in his fingers. In his second rehab start on Monday for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, Lee threw 76 pitches in five innings, allowing two runs on four hits, with four strikeouts and a walk.
"I heard his name," Mattingly said. "He's been throwing the ball, building back up. He's close to the point where he could give you a full start, so I'm sure he could be some type of candidate."
Not the most ringing endorsement, but for now that's all we have. Lee if he called up will be making his major league debut.