We’re within a few days of what would normally be the end of a proper spring training length considering when MLB started up. The Dodgers on Saturday will start left-hander Tyler Anderson, one of the pitching luxuries that helped them navigate through the first two and a half weeks of spring training.
Anderson was a sixth starting pitcher for a five-man rotation, and his first two times out was used in tandem with Tony Gonsolin. After Gonsolin’s first two starts, Anderson entered and put up two eerily similar stat lines. In each game, he allowed one run on two singles and a walk in four innings, with four strikeouts and a hit by pitch.
The Dodgers made sure Anderson was still stretched out as a starter in case he was needed to fill in, which made him the obvious choice to take Andrew Heaney’s rotation spot after the right-hander was placed on the injured list Wednesday.
Both Anderson and Mitch White were deployed as bulk relievers when needed, and the Dodgers still had a normal full-sized bullpen in addition to them, thanks to relaxed roster rules for the first three-plus weeks of the season. The Dodgers carried 16 pitchers for their first 11 games, and have had 15 pitchers for the last two games.
That’s allowed them to be cautious in reliever usage. Blake Treinen pitched the first two games of the season in Colorado, and he’s the only Dodger to pitch on back-to-back days so far this season. Other than Anderson and White, only four times has a Dodgers reliever pitched longer than one inning — Brusdar Graterol and Evan Phillips for four outs each on April 12, then Alex Vesia for one-plus and Justin Bruihl for two innings last Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
Starters are also starting to pitch reasonably deep, though with 10 relievers available there have been some kid gloves in use. Over the first four games of the season, Walker Buehler’s opening day start was the only Dodgers starter to pitch at least five innings. But in the last nine games, eight Dodgers starters have pitched five or more innings.
The Dodgers have eight more games with expanded rosters, so consider this almost equivalent to the final week of spring training in terms of pitcher usage, except that these games count. Starting May 2, MLB teams will have their active rosters reduced from 28 to 26 players, with a limit of 13 pitchers. The security blanket goes away soon.
Teams: Dodgers (10-3) at Padres (9-6)
Location: Petco Park, San Diego
Time: 5:40 p.m.
TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network (out of market)