As the players on the 25-man roster seemingly continue to drop like flies, the Dodgers are still finding ways to win baseball games. Thanks mainly to a red-hot offense, the team has won 16 of its last 21 games and are now one game above the .500 mark for the first time since April 23.
As it almost seems like there’s some kind of player transaction daily, the Los Angeles disabled list count is back into double-digits, and undoubtedly, the starting pitching crew has been dealt the most damage. Walker Buehler has provided the most recent scare to the team, as he exited Friday night’s game early resulting from soreness in his ribs. Apparently, the young righty has been dealing with the pain for some time, as the origin of the injury has been traced back to him being hit with a comebacker against the Rockies on May 21.
“There was always something there, but he felt he could make his starts, which he has,” manager Dave Roberts said after the game. “He said he had a little trouble breathing, and he was in pain. To his credit, he’s as tough as they come. He wanted to stay in there.”
Buehler was scheduled to have tests administered in his rib area upon his departure from the game, and we’ll be sure to report any additional status updates as it’s revealed by the team.
As reported by Ken Gurnick at MLB.com, third baseman Justin Turner missed another start Friday with continued pain in his previously broken left wrist, which Roberts explained is Turner’s “new normal.” According to Roberts, Turner’s usage will need to be managed, perhaps for months. Roberts also said Turner would probably start on Sunday and might even appear in the lineup on Saturday.
“With J.T., it’s one of those things where we’ve got to get to a point where if he does play and there is some discomfort, for it to sort of maintain that sort of comfort level and not to dip down a couple notches,” said Roberts. “So in Colorado, it trended down. Thought we had it after the off-day. Giving him Thursday, Friday and we’ll evaluate Saturday. So it’s not a definitive no for Saturday. I see him playing on Sunday.”
Although there’s still no firm timetable for a potential return, staff ace Clayton Kershaw is progressing nicely in his recovery from a lower back strain. He played catch before Friday’s opener against the Braves, and he reportedly was very aggressive throwing the ball.
“Clayton is doing well,” Roberts said. “He played catch today, moving around really well and has no symptoms, and so I’m not sure when his next ‘pen [session] is, but where he’s at right now, really moving in the right direction.”
Gurnick also reported that righty starter Kenta Maeda could return as soon as next week. His throwing sessions have been going well, and his bullpen on Friday was the most impressive since his hip injury.
“Kenta’s ‘pen today, very aggressive, higher intensity, threw the ball well,” said Roberts. “Probably close to 40 pitches. Executed all of his pitches. So to see him available to make a start for us here sometime next week seems more possible, which is encouraging for all of us.”
In addition, veteran southpaw Rich Hill is scheduled to throw a four-inning simulated game on Saturday to further test his left-middle finger, which he said has responded nicely to recent laser treatments. Hill has been receiving up to nine treatments daily and will throw with the finger uncovered in Saturday’s sim game.
In other news, rookie pitcher Dennis Santana‘s MRI revealed a right rotator cuff strain, which forced his being scratched from Thursday’s start against the Pirates minutes before game time. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list before Friday’s contest with his right arm having been placed in a sling. There has been no indication of an estimated timetable for his return.
Like Santana, reliever Tony Cingrani, who went on the disabled list on Thursday, also has a rotator cuff strain, but according to Gurnick, Roberts said he’s confident Cingrani will need only the minimum 10 days on the DL before returning.
Depending on the severity of Buehler’s injury, more reinforcements may be called in at some point during the weekend, especially if Buehler is placed on the disabled list. From the sound of things, Maeda may be the first to return back to the rotation and it couldn’t come at a better time. While Roberts hinted earlier in the week that the team was considering using Hill in the big league bullpen as part of his rehabilitation, the team may find it necessary to move him directly into the rotation, depending on how his sim game pans out on Saturday.
Furthermore, it was reported on Friday that 27-year-old righty pitcher Daniel Corcino was seen in the Dodgers clubhouse and is part of the taxi squad for the series against Atlanta. In 14 appearances at Triple-A Oklahoma City this year—six of which were starts—Corcino has posted a 3-1 record with a 2.22 ERA and 43 punchouts over 44-2/3 innings of work. Corcino’s most recent big league stint was with the Reds in 2014 when he made five appearances, registering a 4.34 ERA with 15 strikeouts over 18-2/3 innings.