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Brandon McCarthy earns role in Dodgers bullpen during World Series

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The surprise addition to the Dodgers’ World Series roster was right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who didn’t pitch much in the last three months.

McCarthy was on the disabled list for two months with a blister on his right hand, one of three DL stints this season for the veteran right-hander. After posting a 3.84 ERA in 16 starts through July 20, he didn’t pitch again for the Dodgers until the final stretch run.

He appeared in three games in relief over the final nine games of the season, then pitched three more simulated games — two innings each — in preparing for each of the Dodgers’ three postseason rounds.

“He really has been sharp. I think to his credit he has done what he can do to keep our position players fresh and sharp,” Dave Roberts said. “And with what we’ve seen of his sinker, the cutter, the curveball, it just makes sense.”

When McCarthy was activated from the DL in September, it was a long shot that he would make the postseason roster, especially with such little time remaining. But getting back in major league games was still an important milestone after missing two months.

“It was good to be back for the run in, to get back for the [division] clinching. At least you feel like you contributed,” McCarthy said on the eve of the NLDS. “You know in the first half you contributed a bunch, but memories fade quickly.

“In that second half you felt like you weren’t around. I was gone most of the time. You don’t feel like you’re a part of it. But at least getting back I could take some satisfaction in that.”

Now McCarthy can take satisfaction in a much larger role, and perhaps his first postseason appearance. He was on the World Series-winning White Sox in 2005, but didn’t pitch in October.

McCarthy will pitch in high-leverage situations out of the bullpen. He has had even platoon splits throughout his career, and in 2017 held lefties to .254/.303/.335, compared to .259/.324/.377 for right-handers.

“With Brandon, he gives us the luxury of getting lefties and righties out. So I think that I can kind of navigate our pen with who we feel matches up best with the other guys,” Roberts said. “To deploy him a certain part of the lineup and Kenta, also, those are nice pieces.”