Changes Ahead for Dodgers’ Pitching Staff

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(Photo Credit: foxsports.com)

Several changes may be coming for the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff in the foreseeable future. With the peak of the hot stove season still about a month and change away, the club will utilize other avenues — most specifically, waiver claims, players returning from the disabled list, and promotions from the farm system — in hopes of creating a more effective corps of throwers.

On Saturday, per Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, the Dodgers claimed right-handed reliever Casey Fien off waivers from the Twins; yet much to the surprise of many fans, the front office decided to have him report to the major league club, presumably on Monday.

Fien allowed 12 runs and five homers in just over innings of relief work with Minnesota this season. Last year he recorded a 3.55 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and a respectable 1.1 BB/9 in just over 63 frames.

Although the Dodgers haven’t yet officially announced the acquisition, manager Dave Roberts hinted that he already knew a few things about the 32-year-old veteran.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Fien, the club has moved lefty starter Hyun-jin Ryu to the 60-day disabled list. It has been thought by many close followers of the team that either Adam Liberatore or Pedro Baez will be optioned to the minors to create a spot on the 25-man roster. All that being said, though, Fien is indeed optionable.

Also on Saturday, Dodgers’ righty Mike Bolsinger made his first rehab start for Oklahoma City in a winning effort, as OKC defeated Colorado Springs, 4-3.

Bolsinger has been out since spring training with a strained oblique. Although he shouldn’t need a high number of rehab starts before being cleared to return, it’s not guaranteed that he’ll be added to the Dodgers’ rotation.

Despite a strong showing by Ross Stripling on Sunday, it’s safe to say that anyone not named Clayton Kershaw or Kenta Maeda could possibly be looked at in terms of any performance-related type of move. Both Stripling and Alex Wood have options.

Exploring additional occurrences that happened over the weekend, Roberts indicated the Dodgers are considering calling up 19-year-old lefty phenom Julio Urias to join the bullpen.

Although he’s watched with a very close eye regarding pitch counts, promoting Urias to help in relief would allow him to limit his innings for the season and ease his transition to the bigs. The Dodgers are seemingly in need of a reliable setup man, as using a combination of Baez, Chris Hatcher, Louis Coleman and Joe Blanton hasn’t yet paid dividends.

On Wednesday, Urias threw six strong innings of near perfection against New Orleans, striking out six batters and allowing no runs, hits or walks.

He has a career 2.81 ERA, 10.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 and has spent almost his entire minor-league career as a starter. If he will actually be utilized as a reliever, it won’t be for long, as his highest value ultimately lies within being a member of the starting rotation.

Shaikin also reported that in addition to Urias, right-handed prospects Jose De Leon and Jharel Cotton have also been whispered in conversations relating to providing bullpen help.

Fans can look for at least some type of announcement regarding Fien on Monday, when the Dodgers open a four-game set against the Mets at home. Depending on how he fares in his first several appearances, Fien could conceivably be optioned at some point down the road. Fans can also expect Bolsinger to make probably three or four more rehab starts before he’s cleared by team doctors and trainers to throw at the next level.

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