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Dennis Santana is on his way to join the Dodgers

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Philadelphia Phillies v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

In the 135-year history of the Dodgers, there have been 499 different starting pitchers. It looks like we might have number 500 some time very soon.

Kenta Maeda strained his hip and left Wednesday night’s start against the Phillies in the second inning. He’s very likely hitting the disabled list, which at the moment would give the Dodgers four of their five opening day rotation members on the disabled list.

Clayton Kershaw (the 445th starting pitcher in Dodgers history, in case you were wondering) is expected to start Thursday against the Phillies so that will change soon, but the rotation is still short. Brock Stewart started Monday and was optioned to Triple-A on Tuesday. Without Maeda the Dodgers have Ross Stripling, (almost) Kershaw, Alex Wood and Walker Buehler in their rotation. They will still need someone else to start by Sunday at the latest.

They could have brought Stewart back, but he would require someone else going on the disabled list to return within 10 days of being optioned. Maeda could be that DL move if the Dodgers so choose, but there is also the matter of the bullpen being taxed heavily the last two days (and Stewart not looking all that great while on the mound anyway).

Daniel Hudson threw 47 pitches in two innings on Tuesday and certainly won’t be available for at least a day or two. Erik Goeddel and Scott Alexander have each pitched an inning the last two days and the Dodgers have only used one pitcher three days in a row in the last six baseball months, so they could be down, too. Then there is the matter of Josh Fields pitching in three of the last four days and Tony Cingrani in two of the last three.

Dave Roberts said after Tuesday’s game the Dodgers would add “an arm, maybe two” on Wednesday.

Adam Liberatore will almost certainly be one of those arms. He was optioned on May 19 and since he was down for at least 10 days he can return freely. But the other choices on the 40-man roster were all optioned less than 10 days ago — Pat Venditte (optioned May 22), JT Chargois (May 23) and Edward Paredes (May 28). Calling up a second reliever would require a DL move, which would seemingly be Maeda, who is getting an MRI on Wednesday.

That would limit the chances for Stewart to return, unless someone else is also hurt or even “hurt” enough to go on the DL, too.

There is one other reliever on the 40-man who could be called up, Ariel Hernandez, but he has trouble finding the strike zone and was demoted from Triple-A back to Double-A after seven walks and four strikeouts in just 4⅓ innings with OKC. That’s not happening.

Which brings us back to Santana, who was scheduled to start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, but the club’s series finale in Nashville was rained out. That he’s even available to pitch this soon is a stroke of weather-induced luck.

Santana has been very good this season, posting a 2.54 ERA in 10 starts between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A OKC, with 65 strikeouts and 16 walks in 49⅔ innings. He was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago and in his OKC debut he struck out 11 and walked none in six scoreless innings, his third double-digit strikeout game of the season.

In theory the Dodgers don’t need a starter until this weekend in Colorado, but if Santana is headed to Los Angeles as early as Wednesday that probably means he’s either joining the Dodgers bullpen or he’s starting one of the two games remaining in this Phillies series.

That would require some maneuvering of the other starters, with Stripling and Kershaw originally slated to start these final two games at home. It’s understandable that if Santana is starting, they wouldn’t want his first major league experience to be at the hitters haven that is Coors Field, even if an ancillary benefit would be getting to face a terrible Rockies offense that ranks 11th in the NL in runs per game (4.07), 14th in OPS+ (80) and last in wRC+ (78).

Either way, Santana is excited.

The 499

The Dodgers officially recognize their history only dating back to 1890, the year they joined the National League. But they were an American Association team from 1884-89 and at the time that was considered a major league.

Nine of the 499 starting pitchers never pitched for the National League Brooklyn team, including the wonderfully named Phenomenal Smith as well as Hardie Henderson.

Here are the last few Dodgers starters as we approach number 500:

  • 489) Scott Kazmir (Apr. 5, 2016)
  • 490) Kenta Maeda (Apr. 6, 2016)
  • 491) Ross Stripling (Apr. 8, 2016)
  • 492) Julio Urias (May 27, 2016)
  • 493) Nick Tepesch (June 24, 2016)
  • 494) Brock Stewart (June 29, 2016)
  • 495) Bud Norris (July 1, 2016)
  • 496) Rich Hill (Aug. 24, 2016)
  • 497) Jose De Leon (Sept. 4, 2016)
  • 498) Yu Darvish (Aug. 4, 2017)
  • 499) Walker Buehler (April 23, 2018)