With just 15 games remaining in the regular season, the Dodgers are positioning themselves to both try to win the National League West and also set up the roster for the postseason. There are a number of pitchers working their way back, plus some injury news on the current staff as we catch up on miscellaneous team notes from the past few days.
Kenley Jansen set a career high with his 45th save on Friday night, but is also dealing with a stiff right wrist. The Dodgers closer, who allowed a run Friday for the first time since Aug. 26, was wearing a brace on the wrist after the game, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
"I'm not sitting. Just anti-inflammatories," said Jansen, who dismissed the discomfort as bothersome, but not serious.
He said the wrist is stiff when he begins to throw, loosens up in the bullpen, then stiffens up five minutes after the game.
Jansen has 94 strikeouts and nine walks this season. Koji Uehara, with 101 strikeouts and nine walks for the Red Sox in 2013, is the only pitcher ever to finish with at least 100 strikeouts and fewer than 10 walks (also, the only one with as few as 90 strikeouts and fewer than 10 walks). This year, not only does Jansen have a choice to join that list, but so do Clayton Kershaw (155 strikeouts, 9 walks), and Indians fireman Andrew Miller (108/9) as well.
The comeback trail
Brett Anderson showed no ill effects from the blister on his left hand in throwing five strong innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday, striking out five with no walks while needing just 54 pitches.
Oklahoma City’s win extended their season, still down 2-1 on the best-of-five Pacific Coast League Championship Series. It gave them a Game 4 on Saturday night at home, and a destination for Scott Kazmir to continue his rehab.
Kazmir, dealing with thoracic spine inflammation, last pitched for the Dodgers on Aug. 22, unable to properly move his neck during his delivery. He started a rehab game on Sept. 7 for Oklahoma City but left in the first inning after aggravating his injury.
UPDATE: Kazmir’s rehab start was pushed back to Sunday:
Scott Kazmir not starting tonight for OKC #Dodgers. Will start Game 5 if OKC wins. If not will throw sim game— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) September 17, 2016
With the Dodgers in Phoenix this weekend, it’s a chance for those rehabbing at nearby Camelback Ranch to join the team. That includes Brandon McCarthy, who was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 14 with right hip stiffness after completely losing the strike zone, walking a career-worst five batters in three straight starts.
McCarthy got lit up for 10 runs, including three home runs, in a rehab start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Sept. 5, but on the plus side was throwing strikes, which was the root of his problem. McCarthy threw a simulated game in Arizona this week, and will throw another one on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, it is unknown whether any of this trio has enough time to, for instance, earn the fourth starter spot in the postseason, at least for the NLDS. The team is keeping their options open, notes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register:
Like Anderson and Kazmir, Roberts would not say any final decision has been made about how McCarthy might be used by the Dodgers down the stretch or in the postseason.
“It’s up to Brandon and how he pitches,” Roberts said. “With where we are right now, everything’s on the table. But we’re getting close to the end. We’re still trying to win baseball games. That’s the most important thing. Things have a tendency to work themselves out.”
Anderson, Kazmir and McCarthy are on the 15-day DL, so if they are ready to return all it takes is a simple actiivation for them to rejoin the active roster, which currently has 35 players.
Another addition will likely be fellow starter Alex Wood, whose role for the remainder of 2016 will be as a reliever. Wood, with a 3.99 ERA in 10 starts and 62 strikeouts against 19 walks in his 56 innings, last pitched in a major league game on May 30.
Wood, who had left elbow surgery on July 8, could be activated as early as this weekend.
“He’ll be activated soon,” manager Dave Roberts said on Thursday, per Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times. “He’ll be a situational lefty. And hopefully, we expect he can help us.”
Wood is on the 60-day disabled list, so his activation would need to be accompanied by a corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster.
Pending free agent Bud Norris, who has pitched in just one game and to four batters in 14 games so far in September, was passed over for Saturday’s start in favor of rookie Brock Stewart. Norris seems like a prime candidate to be designated for assignment should the club not have a 60-day DL move to make.