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Dodgers recall Michael Grove in rare double-debut week

Grove is second Dodgers pitcher to make major league debut this week

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers officially recalled Michael Grove before Sunday’s series finale against the Phillies at Dodger Stadium, the second pitcher to make his major league debut for the team in five days.

Grove last pitched last Sunday for Double-A Tulsa, where the right-hander had a 2.76 ERA in five starts, with 22 strikeouts and five walks in 16⅓ innings.

The Dodgers drafted Grove in the second round out of West Virginia four years ago, the first player drafted by Los Angeles in 2018 to reach the majors, just like Ryan Pepiot on Wednesday was the first 2019 Dodgers draftee to reach the bigs.

Having two starting pitchers making their major league debut in the same week is extremely rare. Since moving to Los Angeles, the Dodgers have only had two starting pitcher major league debuts in the same month twice — Hyun-jin Ryu and Matt Magill in April 2013, then Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling in a three-day span in April 2016.

Both of those debut pairs featured one pitcher who already had years of professional experience, with Ryu in Korea and Maeda in Japan.

You have to go back to Brooklyn in 1955 for the last time the Dodgers had two actual rookies debut as starting pitchers in the same month. It was a unique situation at Ebbets Field on July 17, when the Dodgers had two starters debut on the same day.

Brooklyn had several pitchers ailing, but thanks to a hot start, at 60-27 with a 12½-game lead entering the day, the Dodgers had room to experiment. From a Newspaper Enterprise Association account that year, here were the pitching maladies the team was dealing with at the time:

“Carl Erskine was out with a bad elbow and back, Billy Loes with a shoulder injury, Johnny Podres with a shoulder that kept him awake nights. A broken bone in the region of Russ Meyer’s collarbone is mending. Sandy Koufax was sidelined by stiffness in his back. Jim Hughes had been shipped to St. Paul. Karl Spooner’s arm was sore.

Manager Alston was down to Don Newcombe and the relief workers, Clem Labine and Ed Roebuck.”

Roger Craig got the call in the first game against the Reds, and giving up one run in each of the first two innings. But he recovered nicely, allowing no hits the rest of the way, finishing off a complete-game win. Four Dodgers homered, including Duke Snider hitting his 31st of the season. That remains the most home runs by a Dodger through 88 team games in a season, and the time was tied for eighth-most through 88 games in MLB history.

Don Bessent pitched the second game for Brooklyn, and got plenty of breathing room with a six-run fourth inning from his offense. Up 8-2 entering the ninth, the chances for consecutive complete-game debuts were dashed when Cincinnati greeted Bessent with single, home run, double to start the inning. Ed Roebuck was called in to get the final three outs, giving the Dodgers to rookies winning their major league debuts on the same day.

Both Craig and Bessent stuck around for a while, pitching 90⅔ and 63⅓ innings, respectively. Brooklyn only used 15 pitchers all season, and the rookies Bessent (2.70) and Craig (2.78) ended up with the best two ERAs on the staff. Bessent pitched 3⅓ scoreless innings over his three appearances that year in the World Series, while Craig started and won the critical Game 5, beating the Yankees with two runs over six frames.

Grove was one of a number of Dodgers roster moves on Sunday. Veteran right-hander Shane Greene also had his contract selected from Triple-A. Garrett Cleavinger and Reyes Moronta, both of whom pitched Saturday night, were optioned. Victor Gonzalez was transferred to the 60-day injured list to make room for Greene on the 40-man roster.