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The competition to join Victor Gonzalez as a lefty in the Dodgers bullpen

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Five pitchers vying for maybe one spot

Los Angeles Dodgers v Texas Rangers Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

There are still more than three weeks until opening day, but it’s never too early to talk about the potential roster for April 1. One of the certainties for the Dodgers is that Victor Gonzalez is entrenched as a prominent left-hander in the bullpen. It’s just a matter of figuring out who will join him.

That Gonzalez has vaulted to such a lofty perch is remarkable, given that he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster until after the 2019 season. But a 29-percent strikeout rate and only two walks and no home runs allowed goes a long way in building a reputation, with confidence in the southpaw bolstered by a 2.70 ERA in eight postseason games, including key outs in the final two games of the World Series.

The limit of 13 pitchers on the 26-man active roster has been lifted this year as part of health and safety protocols agreed upon by MLB players and owners, so the Dodgers won’t be limited in that regard should they want to carry extra pitching.

“I think we got a lot of great options. Certainly, Victor’s establishing himself as a real guy in the pen,” manager Dave Roberts said Monday. “You always want to go with the best options regardless of handedness. But I do think that having another lefty alongside Victor is very likely.”

With Caleb Ferguson out for the season after Tommy John surgery last September, it’s an open competition for other lefties in relief for the Dodgers. And that’s before considering David Price, who will be on the roster one way or the other, but as he said on Monday he’s ready for any role that is asked of him.

The other left-handers on the 40-man roster are healthy, with Garrett Cleavinger and Gonzalez having already pitched in three Cactus League games. Scott Alexander and Alex Vesia have each pitched twice, and are likely to pitch again in the next day or so. All four, including Gonzalez, have minor league options.

Among non-roster invitees, lefties James Pazos and Enny Romero each pitched a scoreless inning on Monday, the third appearance this spring for each southpaw. So unless Price himself claims the other lefty spot in the bullpen, it’s basically five pitchers for one spot, which makes this one of the most competitive battles of Dodgers spring training.

Links & news

  • Roberts sent an organization-wide email decrying recent violence against Asian Americans. “Seeing what’s going on in our country, I just felt that I wanted to internally put something together for our organization, showing my support toward Asian Americans in our organization and acknowledge what’s going in our country and around the world that I just don’t believe is right,” Roberts told Pedro Moura and Dennis Lin at The Athletic.
  • Catching up on the weekend note that Joe Kelly is still not ready for game action, Roberts on Monday wouldn’t say if Kelly would be available by opening day. “I don’t want to say he won’t be ready for the start of the season, and I don’t want to say that he will,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of day to day with his throwing program. We still have to see it in major league games before we can give the green light.”
  • The Dodgers will balance unleashing Julio Urías this season with not wanting to overly stretch him after a shortened season (he’s not alone in this category). Jorge Castillo at the Los Angeles profiled the left-hander.
  • Juan Toribio at MLB.com projected the Dodgers’ opening day roster, with a split of 13 pitchers and 13 position players.
  • The trespassing charge against Andrew Toles was officially dismissed in Monroe County, Florida last week, with his $500 cash bond refunded on Wednesday.
  • The sportsbook at MGM set an over/under for the Dodgers at 102½ wins this year, but even with the high target bettors are unfazed. “The most tickets at BetMGM are currently on the Dodgers, Phillies and Marlins to go over their win totals, while bettors think the Tigers, Indians and A’s will go under,” said Seamus Magee at BetMGM.
  • Corey Seager, who singled, scored twice, and hit a three-run home run on Monday, talked with reporters on site at Camelback Ranch, and his upcoming free agency was broached: