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Caleb Ferguson ‘unlikely’ for opening day, Dodgers mulling 15-16 pitchers

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 21, 2022: Caleb Ferguson #64 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch during the fifth inning of an MLB spring training game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on March 21, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona.
GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 21, 2022: Caleb Ferguson #64 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch during the fifth inning of an MLB spring training game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on March 21, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona.
Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The best part about guessing a potential opening day roster is when it can be wrong almost immediately, within a few days. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters in Arizona on Wednesday that the club is considering carrying even more pitchers than perhaps previously thought.

The designated hitter plays into this, with no longer needing to hit for a pitcher means fewer opportunities to pinch hit — and one reason why Matt Beaty was traded to San Diego — as does the Dodgers having five off days in the first four weeks of the season.

“With the DH and the guys we have on our roster on the position player side, there’s not too many guys that I’d have to hit for. We have some off days,” Roberts said Wednesday. “It allows for a more straightforward approach.”

From May 6 to June 5, the Dodgers have a stretch of only one day off in 31 days, with 31 games during that stretch, including one doubleheader against Arizona. By May, active rosters are expected to return to the usual 26 players. Unless some agreed-upon modification is in place, there is a standing rule of carrying no more than 13 pitchers, but that was relaxed for COVID protocols during the last two seasons and will be ignored at least in April.

But even with 15 or — gasp — 16 pitchers on the roster to start the season, that group likely won’t include Caleb Ferguson, who is returning from Tommy John surgery in August 2020. Ferguson has pitched in three Cactus League games, putting him ahead of fellow Tommy John surgery rehabber Tommy Kahnle, but isn’t expected to be on the opening day roster, Roberts explained.

There are only 22 pitchers still in Dodgers big league camp. Those include Ferguson, Kahnle, and Phil Bickford, all of whom aren’t expected to be ready by opening day.

That leaves only 19 pitchers to chose from to get those 15 or 16 pitchers on the opening day roster. Let’s break them into groups:

  • Starting pitchers (6): Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Andrew Heaney, Tony Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson (Anderson is expected to begin in the bullpen; he told Kirsten Watson of SportsNet LA on Wednesday, “I’ll do whatever it takes to help us win.”
  • Right-handed relievers on 40-man (5): Blake Treinen, Daniel Hudson, Brusdar Graterol, Evan Phillips (out of options), Mitch White
  • Left-handed relievers on 40-man (5): Alex Vesia, Victor González, David Price, Justin Bruihl, Garrett Cleavinger
  • Non-roster invitees (3): Yency Almonte, Shane Greene, Reyes Moronta

That leaves only a very small handful of roster decisions remaining.

One of the pitching roster locks is Julio Urías, who makes his second Cactus League start on Wednesday night against the Guardians in Goodyear.

Dodgers-Guardians lineups

Pos Dodgers Pos Guardians
Pos Dodgers Pos Guardians
RF Betts CF Straw
2B Lux (L) LF Rosario
LF Pollock 3B Ramirez (S)
3B Muncy (L) DH Reyes
CF Bellinger (L) 2B Chang
SS Alberto RF Mercado
C Barnes 1B Bradley (L)
DH Ríos (L) SS Clement
1B Lamb (L) C Hedges
Julio Urías vs. Konnor Pilkington on the mound

David Price will make his 2022 game debut at some point following Urías. It’s unclear how long Price will last, but considering the length of the list of expected pitchers, perhaps his outing will be short.

Other Dodgers slated to pitch Wednesday include Brusdar Graterol, Evan Phillips, Garrett Cleavinger, and non-roster invitees Yency Almonte, Shane Greene, and Reyes Moronta.

Konnor Pilkington starts on the mound for Cleveland.

Spring training Game 13 info

  • Teams: Dodgers at Guardians
  • Location: Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear, Arizona
  • Time: 6:05 p.m. PT
  • TV: SportsNet LA