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Dodgers bullpen getting pushed to the limit

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers bullpen has been taxed of late, and in the three-game series against the Orioles the relievers literally worked overtime. The Dodgers could be in need of a roster move just to add a fresh arm to the bullpen.

Especially with Hyun-jin Ryu a giant question mark after missing a year and a half, making his 2016 debut starting on Thursday against the Padres. The club already needs to make a roster move to activate Ryu, and could need another one to add an extra arm to the bullpen.

The Dodgers' bullpen pitched 19⅔ innings in three games against the Orioles, including eight relievers throwing nine total innings in relief on Wednesday.

Chris Hatcher threw 22 pitches on Wednesday after throwing 31 pitches in two innings on Tuesday. He seems likely to be unavailable for at least a few days, which with the All-Star break coming might normally make him probable for a roster move, Hatcher is out of options and unless there is a disabled list move he's probably here to stay.

"Hatcher today was supposed to be down. We really wanted to stay away from him, and [Pedro Baez] was down and he started cranking," manager Dave Roberts said after the game, as seen on SportsNet LA. "But when you get to the 14th inning it's one of those all hands on deck type of things."

Baez was the only relief pitcher not used on Wednesday, after throwing 19 pitches in two innings Monday and 15 pitches in one inning on Tuesday.

Luis Avilan seems likely to be optioned, at least to make room for Ryu, after serving his purpose as the extra arm in the bullpen, pitching both days he was active, throwing 15 pitches Tuesday and 21 more on Wednesday.

The rest of the bullpen has been busy, too:

Kenley Jansen made 15 pitches on Wednesday, and has pitched three games and three innings in the last four days.

Adam Liberatore pitched an inning (16 pitches) on Wednesday, and has pitched three games and three innings in the last four days.

Add Joe Blanton to the three games in four days group, including 21 pitches in one inning on Wednesday.

Louis Coleman threw 24 pitches in his 1⅓ innings on Wednesday, his third straight day, with four pitches Monday and 15 on Tuesday.

Casey Fien threw 25 pitches in his one inning Wednesday, but that was his only appearance in the last three days.

J.P. Howell threw 42 pitches in 1⅔ innings, his only outing in the last four days. But keep in mind that every time he has thrown 30 or more pitches since the 2013 All-Star break, he has had at least two days rest before his next appearance.

As it shakes out, Coleman, Hatcher and Howell are almost certainly all not available on Thursday, and Avilan likely optioned. But that still leaves Jansen, Liberatore and Blanton available on Thursday, plus likely Fien and maybe Baez too.

So maybe whether they decided on adding an extra relief arm will depend completely on their perceived need of a long man to back Ryu in his first major league start since October 2014.

To that end, Jharel Cotton, Carlos Frias and Mike Bolsinger are all on the 40-man roster, with Cotton and Frias slated to start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Frias pitched 1⅔ innings in relief on Sunday, throwing 27 pitches. Bolsinger, now in the bullpen, threw 39 pitches in three innings on Monday, making 39 pitches. Cotton last pitched on Friday, a six-inning start.

No matter what moves are made, the Dodgers have to be looking forward to the four-day All-Star break, if only for some much needed down time for their bullpen.