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By Jon Weisman
We got a jump on this week’s minor league report Tuesday by highlighting the performances of Julio Urias, Jharel Cotton and Corey Seager. And with a morning Dodger game at Cincinnati on Thursday — the last Dodger game east of the Rockies in the 2015 regular season — we’re going to get to the farm report itself a day early.
Already, conversation is hot and heavy about whom the Dodgers might call up when rosters expand September 1. The Dodgers have said they won’t call up players willy-nilly without a specific purpose, but that’s not to say this team doesn’t have several specific purposes to address.
Here are the candidates from the 40-man roster:
Mike Bolsinger: He’s a favorite because of his extensive work on the big-league club this year and his consistent success at Triple-A, save for a 2 2/3-inning outing August 20 in which he allowed four runs and walked five. Bolsinger did bounce back with 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball Monday, striking out five. The Dodgers have made sure he has had recent experience both as a starter and as a reliever.
Zach Lee, Joe Wieland: One general point to keep in mind is that Oklahoma City is headed for the Triple-A playoffs, and some talented players will be left to see that season through. So while Wieland has been effective of late — 2.42 ERA in August with 24 strikeouts and only two walks in 26 innings — the 25-year-old righty could remain with Oklahoma City for at least the near future. The same goes for Lee (3.03 ERA, 24 strikeouts, five walks in August). Combined, the pair has started 39 of the 40 games they’ve appeared in.
Daniel Coulombe, Adam Liberatore: Both lefty relievers spent time with the Dodgers this year, though Liberatore had the more integral role before being optioned July 22. In 10 August innings, he has allowed two runs on 11 baserunners while striking out seven. Coulombe is a veteran of last September’s stretch run, but allowed runs in all five Dodger appearances in 2015. This August, he given up a run in 6 2/3 innings with five strikeouts. Neither Coulombe nor Liberatore has had pinpoint control of late.
Josh Ravin: Ravin is one of the hardest throwers in the organization, but he hasn’t pitched since he was placed on the 7-day minor-league disabled list August 1. He tweeted that he had his first bullpen session August 20. So broadly speaking, he’s in the same boat as Carlos Frias, who is on the Major League disabled list. Either would make sense to have — if healthy.
Ian Thomas: Pitching mainly in relief, Thomas had a streak of 10 consecutive minor-league innings end August 19 — since that time, he has surrendered six runs on 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Austin Barnes: Putting aside the impact it would have on Oklahoma City’s title dreams, no callup is more likely than the 25-year-old catcher, especially with Yasmani Grandal at less than 100 percent. Barnes has had an outstanding second half statistically in Triple A (.434 on-base percentage, .515 slugging). Since August 18, Barnes is 11 for 23 with a double, home run and five walks.
Jose Peraza: Though the Chase Utley acquisition and Howie Kendrick’s impending rehab assignment have all but ended his chance at regular playing time in September, Peraza could be useful as a pinch-runner and spot player off the big-league bench. After a hot start with Oklahoma City, Peraza is 3 for his last 22, though with only two strikeouts.
Andy Wilkins: This 25-year-old first baseman, acquired May 4, is the first player mentioned here who hasn’t seen time on the big club. With Oklahoma City, he has 16 homers in 330 at-bats, though none since August 7. But if the Dodgers want to add a left-handed bat off the bench, it would be between Wilkins and …
Scott Schebler: Schelber went 1 for 3 in his only MLB game. He’s an interesting player with his combination of power and speed (12 homers, nine triples, 14 of 16 stealing), even if his overall numbers (.324 OBP, .416 slugging) don’t seem overwhelming. In his past three games, he is 6 for 12 with a walk.
So that’s a dozen players right there, and you can be sure the Dodgers won’t add them all — and the ones they do add won’t come in one swoop.
That’s not even taking into account players who aren’t on the 40-man roster — and therefore by definition are longshots. But if you really want to think big tent or what could conceivably happen in an emergency, here is a sampling of the non-roster players:
Darwin Barney: After becoming a surprise asset in late 2014, the defensive whiz is blocked on the Dodger infield. But his skillset remains, and he has a .343 on-base percentage for Oklahoma City.
David Huff: On Wednesday, Huff made his first start since April 30 (after 21 consecutive games in relief) and allowed one run on four baserunners in five innings with four strikeouts. For the season in Triple-A, he has a 1.68 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings. In six Major League innings with the Dodgers early this season, he allowed six runs.