“We’re going to look for the guys in the bullpen to cover,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It will essentially be a bullpen day.”
Saturday would have been a start for Alex Wood, but he was place on the disabled list after a recurrence of SC joint inflammation. The Dodgers had other options in the minors like Wilmer Font or Fabio Castillo, but chose to utilize Stripling, who made 14 starts in 2016.
“There is an opportunity to continue to build his innings up,” Roberts said. “He was a former starter and has pitched in length for us.”
Stripling was fourth on the team in innings pitched in 2016, but entered 2017 as the long man in the bullpen, a position he has held most of the season, with a brief stint in Triple-A Oklahoma City. The right-hander leads the relief corps with 58 innings pitched this season, and has topped out at three innings in three different games.
He anticipated he would pitch three our four innings on Saturday, with Tony Cingrani and/or Josh Ravin likely getting the team through six innings in an ideal situation. The club is carrying nine relievers on the active roster at the moment, 10 if you count Stripling.
“I would imagine around the 45-pitch range I would start to feel a little fatigue, then you could probably muscle your way through 10 or 15 more,” Stripling said.
“You want to be able to go out there and give three or four innings if you can, and give the bullpen as much rest as you’re able to,” he said. “Bullpens don’t enjoy a bullpen game, that’s not fun when guys are expected to go maybe longer than they’re used to or put into a different role.”
Brandon McCarthy starts a minor league rehab assignment on Friday night with Class-A Rancho Cuamonga. He is expected to throw roughly four innings or 60 pitches, then follow that up next Wednesday or Thursday with either Double-A Tulsa or Triple-A Oklahoma City. Both teams are home both days. McCarthy last pitched for the Dodgers on July 20.
Adam Liberatore pitched a scoreless inning with the Arizona rookie league Dodgers on Thursday, his first game action since May 30, out with a left forearm strain. He is on the Dodgers radar for September, and potentially beyond if his arm responds well.
“It’s contingent upon his health and how he’s pitching,” Roberts said of Liberatore. “It’s been a while since he’s pitched in a game. He needs to go out there and pitch well. Where we’re at, you have to have a reason to be here, because we have a lot of different players. It’s not a tryout. We expect him to help us in September.
Speaking of needing a reason to be here, Walker Buehler -- the Dodgers 2015 first-round pick and current top prospect — has 12 strikeouts and no walks in seven innings in his last four relief appearances for Oklahoma City. Roberts wouldn’t fully commit to Buehler joining the major league roster when rosters expand, but it’s clearly on his mind.
“He threw the ball well yesterday. He’s kind of transitioning to this new role,” Roberts said. “We haven’t made that decision.”