One night after using six relievers to close out a series in Miami, the Dodgers added two bullpen arms for their three-game series against the Mets in New York, recalling right-hander Jake Reed and selecting Heath Hembree from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
Reed pitched in three games for the Dodgers last month after getting claimed off waivers from the Mets on July 13, allowing a run in 2⅔ innings, with two strikeouts and a walk.
He pitched in five games for the Mets this season, allowing eight runs in 6⅓ innings, with six walks and six strikeouts, all the runs coming in a two-game stretch over five days in June.
Since getting optioned to Triple-A on July 31, the right-hander allowed one run in eight appearances, with eight strikeouts and two unintentional walks in 8⅓ innings. His last game with Oklahoma City was last Tuesday against El Paso, throwing five pitches to his one batter faced. He joined the team on the taxi squad in Miami.
Hembree signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers at the end of June, and had a 4.82 ERA in 10 games in Triple-A, striking out 14 (35.9-percent K rate) with two walks in 9⅓ innings. He last pitched on Saturday, tossing a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
The 33-year-old right-hander also pitched 20 games for the Pirates earlier this season, posting a 7.16 ERA in 20 games, with more walks than strikeouts.
Michael Grove was optioned to Oklahoma City after filling in capably on Monday. Starting in place of Tony Gonsolin, who was placed on the 15-day injured list with right forearm inflammation, Grove allowed a pair of runs in 4⅔ innings, striking out four and walking one in the longest of his three major league outings to date.
Phil Bickford was also optioned, after throwing 20 pitches on Monday, his third appearance over the last four days. Bickford, even with his eighth-inning appearance in a tie game Monday, was the lowest-leverage relief pitcher in the bullpen, and has struggled this season with a 5.14 ERA and 4.43 FIP with 49 strikeouts and 13 walks in 49 innings, and a team-bullpen-high nine home runs allowed.
Bickford is tied with Alex Vesia and Evan Phillips for the Dodgers lead with 51 appearances.
Adding Reed and Hembree will give the Dodgers nine relievers for the remainder of the series. Even if starter Clayton Kershaw’s activation comes Thursday in New York or Friday at home vs. San Diego, it will be September and roster limits will have expended to 28 players, including 14 pitchers.
Reed has been optioned five times this year by the Mets and Dodgers since the counting started on May 2, so to send him down again would require placing him on waivers. Perhaps relatedly, the Dodgers currently have four pitchers on rehab assignments who are on the 60-day injured list — Blake Treinen, Victor González, Tommy Kahnle, and Danny Duffy — and a corresponding move would need to be made in order to add them back to the 40-man roster once the rehab assignment is complete. Treinen is expected to be activated Friday.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Hembree, utility man Eddy Alvarez was designated for assignment.
Alvarez had four hits in 25 at-bats in his 14 games with the Dodgers this season, starting four games in right field (his first time as a professional at the position), twice at third base, once in left field, and twice at designated hitter.
The 32-year-old two-time Olympian signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in November. The utility man hit .322/.439/.554 with eight home runs and 21 extra-bast hits in 47 games with Oklahoma City, starting games at shortstop, second base, third base, and left field. Alvarez has been on the minor league injured list for the last seven weeks.