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Dodgers claim Phil Bickford off waivers, designate Mike Kickham for assignment

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The 25-year-old RHP went to Oaks Christian High School in Westlake

Miami Marlins v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

The Dodgers, in dire need of pitching depth with eight hurlers currently on the injured list, claimed right-hander Phil Bickford off waivers from the Brewers on Monday.

Bickford has pitched in all of two innings in the majors, one each in the last two seasons with Milwaukee, who designated him for assignment last Wednesday. In his last full minor league season, in 2019, the right-hander repeated High-A Carolina and struck out 41 percent of batters faced, posting a 2.48 ERA in 32⅔ innings over 20 relief appearances.

The Giants originally drafted Bickford with the 18th overall pick in 2015, then traded him at the deadline in 2016 along with catcher Andrew Susac for relief pitcher Will Smith.

Bickford has two option years remaining, including 2021.

The Dodgers in the last week placed starter Dustin May and relievers David Price and Brusdar Graterol on the injured list, and setup man Corey Knebel was lost for “a few months” with a lat injury just nine days ago. Price and Joe Kelly are at least a week away from returning, if not more, and Tony Gonsolin is being stretched out to start, and is likely 3-4 weeks away from getting activated.

“Our baseball ops guys are always looking for players, certainly with what we’ve gone through,” manager Dave Roberts said Sunday. “Guys are coming back, namely David and Tony, and Corey at some point. They’re always looking, so we’ll see.”

Sunday’s option to fill innings was Mike Kickham, a non-roster invitee who was added to the 40-man roster Sunday, and pitched the final two innings of the Dodgers’ blowout win to avoid a four-game series sweep in Milwaukee.

On Monday, Kickham was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Bickford. It’s unclear if or when Bickford might join the major league team, but in the immediate future, the options for the active roster are limited. Edwin Uceta and Luke Raley are both on the taxi squad, but can’t be recalled inside of 10 days since getting optioned unless replacing an injured player.

Roberts said over the weekend that carrying 14 pitchers was short-lived, so perhaps they add a position player for the Cubs series, especially with the top three starting pitchers — Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer — set to pitch in Chicago.

That pretty much leaves catcher Keibert Ruiz, who is also on the taxi squad with the team, and if activated would give the Dodgers 13 active position players. After two straight days of using Austin Barnes at second base, and after Kershaw pinch hit on Saturday — for the second time in a week — a full bench would be welcome at this point.

The Dodgers have not yet announced a corresponding move to replace Kickham on the active roster.