The Dodgers still have 47 players remaining in big league camp in spring training, and with opening day just eight days away that means a lot of moves coming to cut down to the 26-man active roster. But there are really only a few decisions left.
First, a number of players will start on the injured list who are still technically active in camp. Gavin Lux is out for the year with an ACL tear. Alex Reyes hasn’t pitched yet in camp and is still recovering from shoulder surgery from last May. Tony Gonsolin sprained his left ankle on March 6 and won’t be ready for opening day.
Daniel Hudson won’t be ready for opening day as he deals with ankle tendinitis. On Monday the right-hander expressed frustration at how slow the recovery is taking, telling Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, “We haven’t really made any decisions on what the next step is. We’re just trying to map some stuff out … on when I can get back into games.”
Jimmy Nelson missed a year and a half after Tommy John surgery and flexor tendon repair, and this spring hasn’t found the strike zone, walking 11 of his 21 batters faced, with no strikeouts. He threw one strike in 14 pitches on Sunday, after which Dave Roberts said on SportsNet LA, “Coming back from Tommy John, the execution and command, that’s gonna come. ... We completely believe in him. He’s going to figure it out, but it’s going to take some time, and he’ll be fine.” That sure sounds like code for Nelson will start the season on the IL.
Lux, Gonsolin, Reyes, Hudson, and Nelson starting on the injured list effectively leaves 42 players in camp, including 19 pitchers.
Only six cuts left to go on the pitching side.
With Gonsolin out, a rotation spot is open. Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove are the clear favorites, as they are stretched out enough to start games.
Dodgers pitchers in camp
Andre Jackson, who like Pepiot and Grove is on the 40-man roster, was on that starter path as well, until pitching only 1⅔ innings on Tuesday. Jackson pitched well last year down the stretch, including a few outings in the majors, and should be at least in consideration for a bullpen spot.
Obvious bullpen locks include Evan Phillips and Brusdar Graterol. Yency Almonte is, too, unless the team slow-playing him this spring after last year’s elbow tightness extends into the regular season. Roberts told reporters on Saturday that lefties Alex Vesia and Caleb Ferguson will be on the roster, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. That’s five of the eight pitchers.
Shelby Miller signed a one-year deal, and while his $1.5-million guarantee wouldn’t be too much of a hindrance to jettison after a so-so spring training — five runs allowed on 10 hits in five innings, eight strikeouts, no walks — I have a hard time believing the Dodgers would (nor should) be willing to cut bait so early.
Phil Bickford is out of options, and while his 2022 performance was poor, the right-hander was excellent in 2021. Maybe the time will run out for Bickford later in the season if and when various other relievers are ready, but he’s worth keeping for depth, let alone potential upside.
Miller and Bickford would make seven in the bullpen, which would mean one more open spot. Other pitchers on the 40-man roster are Jackson plus left-handers Victor González and Justin Bruihl.
There are only three non-roster pitchers left in camp after Tuesday’s roster cuts, so maybe a better way to frame the bullpen choices are Bickford, Jackson, González, Bruihl, Tyler Cyr, Tayler Scott, and Wander Suero battling for two spots.
We’ll find out in a week or so.