By Jon Weisman
September 1, the date that active rosters can expand to as many as 40 players, has been in the Dodgers’ sightlines for some time — the seemingly perfect quirk in the schedule to serve a team that has depth in its pitching staff but not length.
Today, Dave Roberts told reporters that the Dodgers plan to activate Louis Coleman from the disabled list before Friday’s game (Thursday is actually an off day for Los Angeles, except for the Dodgers All-Access event) and also bring back reliever Casey Fien from the minors.
That would give the Dodgers a minimum of 14 pitchers, pending more possible additions as the month progresses. A recall of Luis Avilan and Josh Fields, who pitched recently for the Dodgers, would give them 16 arms. Brett Anderson, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Josh Ravin are on the 15-day disabled list, and so with the flick of paperwork, the pitching staff could number as many as 20.
Hopes remain for the return from the 60-day disabled list of Clayton Kershaw to the starting rotation and Alex Wood to the bullpen, and then you possibly have 22 pitchers. (That seems like a lot.) In those cases, however, someone currently on the 40-man roster would have to be displaced.
That’s why, despite his strong finish at Triple-A Oklahoma City and highly regarded prospect status, Jose De Leon — who is not on the 40-man roster yet — might not see action for Los Angeles this year. It hasn’t been ruled out, but it’s predicated on the status of the aforementioned score of pitchers.
Brock Stewart is one of those pitchers, and some have wondered why he is starting today and not De Leon. Stewart’s minor-league performance rivals De Leon’s this year, and although his 11.25 ERA as a big-leaguer doesn’t sell him well, Roberts he thinks the experience — however traumatic by baseball standards — will help him.
Julio Urías, in a sense, exemplifies what the Dodgers’ hopes for Stewart are — suffer through setbacks early, and then begin to string together success. Urías remains in the starting rotation for the Dodgers, Roberts said today, although the exact date of his next start hasn’t been announced.
Urías has thrown 108 innings this season across the minors and Majors, a 23 percent increase form his career high.
On the position-player side, Roberts confirmed that Austin Barnes, who has been back in action after a pitch injured his hand, would come up in September as the Dodgers’ third catcher (and also backup in the infield).
Andre Ethier, who went 0 for 3 in his second rehab game with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga but played four innings in right field for the first time, is also on track for his first 2016 action with the Dodgers sooner than later, even if his health limits him to a bench role. One thing to keep in mind is that the Dodgers still have three games with a designated hitter remaining, September 12-14 at Yankee Stadium.
Scott Van Slyke, whose regular season ended Thursday when he was placed on the 60-day DL, is going to have right wrist surgery, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported. Trayce Thompson, who has been recovering from two stress fractures in his back, is still waiting to be cleared for baseball activities, according to Bill Plunkett of the Register. There is no word on what the fate of Yasiel Puig will be.
The remaining minor-leaguers position players on the 40-man roster who are eligible for recall are Shawn Zarraga, Micah Johnson and Chris Taylor. Taylor has 59 MLB plate appearances this year, while Johnson and Zarraga have three combined.