The Dodgers made a roster move just minutes before Sunday night’s game against the Mets, activating Darien Núñez from the injured list and giving them 10 relief pitchers on the active roster for now.
Núñez was placed on the injured list on August 7 with no injury designation. He’s back after just eight days. The COVID-19 related injured list has no 10-day requirement, and per the collective bargaining agreement is considered a medical condition that cannot be disclosed by the team without the player’s consent.
COVID-19 injured list stints temporarily remove the player from the 40-man roster, which was the case for both Núñez and Joe Kelly, who was placed on the injured list Tuesday with no designation. Núñez threw a 20-pitch bullpen session Friday at Citi Field, while Kelly remained home in Los Angeles during the road trip, and could join the Dodgers on the upcoming homestand.
To make room for Núñez on the active roster, the Dodgers optioned utility man Zach McKinstry to Triple-A Oklahoma City. McKinstry was recalled on Saturday and played the ninth inning in left field.
The Dodgers have used the bullpen quite often this week, with relievers throwing 22⅔ innings in the first five games of the road trip. On Saturday, four relievers were unavailable after heavy usage, and it stands to reason at least a portion of the three relief arms used last night — Alex Vesia (three multi-inning games in five days), Phil Bickford (six games in nine days), and Corey Knebel (first back-to-back games in the majors this season) — might not be available on Sunday.
Núñez is one of three active southpaws in the bullpen, along with Vesia and Justin Bruihl, the latter in his first week in the big leagues who pitched in four of the first six games he’s been active.