Looking at potential September call-ups for the Dodgers

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

As great as this season has been, I’m so ready for October. But before that, the Dodgers must go through September, and with September comes roster expansion.

I touched on this a little bit in an article almost three weeks ago. Since then, some things have changed. Grant Dayton is done for the season (and 2018) because he’s having Tommy John surgery this week, and he should go on the 60-day disabled list soon enough. Jacob Rhame has been traded, but for Curtis Granderson, so there was no new 40-man roster spot opened up. Adrian Gonzalez has indeed returned, but he’s no lock to finish the season after he said he had some “lower back tightness” after Sunday’s game — and “lower back tightness” is becoming the new “pulled hamstring” in Los Angeles.

As of now, the 40-man roster is full, though Dayton’s trip to the 60-day will open up one spot. Here are the players under consideration for September call-ups who are not currently on the 40-man roster or 60-day DL.

There’s an extreme outside chance a guy like Justin Masterson or Yaisel Sierra could get a look, but I’m not counting on it. If the Dodgers had more 40-man openings, then maybe, but since they don’t, those guys will be on the outside looking in.

Buehler seems like a lock at this stage. I wrote about that a couple weeks ago.

“There’s no telling how Buehler will handle an MLB bullpen workload. In my opinion, he won’t throw on back-to-back days and probably won’t throw more than two innings at a time. With his three double-plus offerings, he could be a big weapon for the season’s last 2-3 weeks. If he does well enough, the Dodgers might consider putting him on the postseason roster. On the down side, Buehler’s command still isn’t where it needs to be as a starter. It could play up out of the bullpen, but that’s not guaranteed. The thing I worry about most is the extra stress that will be put on his young frame. Young in the sense, yes, he’s 22, but he also has just 85 2/3 innings in his professional career — and one Tommy John surgery. If he succeeds, the Dodgers might have another version of Francisco Rodriguez, circa 2002, on their hands. Rodriguez was instrumental in the Angels’ World Series run back then — 18 2/3 IP, 1.93 ERA, 40 K%, 7.1 BB%. When you look back on it, it was an incredible performance by the then-rookie. However, Buehler isn’t accustomed to pitching in relief, and he would be hard pressed to even come close to those numbers. He had made 19 starts this season before shifting to the bullpen earlier this month. The results have been mixed — all three of his runs were given up in his first outing and he has struck out eight of the 22 hitters he has faced.”

That’s a tall order for a kid in his first full professional season who has been a starter most of this season.

Font is a guy who probably is more deserving of a call-up, as he has been the most prolific strikeout pitcher in the Pacific Coast League this season.

  • 170 strikeouts (128 1/3 IP)
  • 32.0 K%
  • 25.6 K-BB%

He’s also third in the league with a 3.06 FIP and sixth with a .225 opponents batting average. Sounds like a perfect addition to the bullpen for September.

Verdugo has turned it on a bit of late, but his chances of making the 40-man roster in a few days is a little lower than it was before the Granderson trade. I’ll understand if they want to clear a roster spot to get him some MLB experience next month, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they let him have the rest of the season off. I mean, just look at the outfield depth chart before Verdugo:

  1. Granderson (LF)
  2. Chris Taylor (CF)
  3. Yasiel Puig (RF)
  4. Joc Pederson
  5. Enrique Hernandez
  6. Trayce Thompson
  7. Rob Segedin
  8. Andre Ethier

Those are all guys on the 40-man (or soon to be on the 40-man, in Ethier’s case) who can play outfield. While Pederson’s stock is down a bit, Taylor’s emergence in center has also lessened the need for bringing Verdugo up. Any thoughts of him playing well enough to take the starting center field spot in the postseason were far-fetched to begin with, but they’re all but dead now.

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Here are the remaining players on the 40-man roster or 60-day DL who are not yet on the active roster:

First on Urias: He’ll likley stay on the minor-league disabled list because he won’t accumulate any service time. If he were recalled and placed on the 60-day DL, he’d accumulate service time. Same goes for Eibner (TJ surgery), though, if the Dodgers need the 40-man spot and don’t want to lose any of the other guys above, they could bite the proverbial bullet and lose service time with Eibner.

Ethier, Pederson, Segedin, Stewart and Thompson are locks to come up. Castillo, Jankowski and Ysla, however, are not. Of the latter trio, Castillo and Jankowski have the best shot of coming up. Ysla is currently in Double-A, but he is left handed, so there’s always a chance. But if the Dodgers aren’t going to bring up Castillo, they might as well designate him for assignment if they need the 40-man spot to add Buehler, Font and/or Verdugo. He was added earlier this season to prevent him from going overseas to play, but it seems like he isn’t in the long-term plans of this club. Liberatore isn’t a lock to come back, but he has thrown a couple rehab games in the last handful of days. As for Kazmir, well, I’m not expecting a thing from him this season.

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For argument’s sake, let’s say all three of Buehler, Font and Verdugo get the call, as well as Ethier, Pederson, Segedin, Stewart and Thompson. To make four 40-man roster spots, I’d move Dayton and Eibner to the 60-day DL and DFA Castillo and Ysla. If Liberatore does come back, they’ll need a fifth 40-man spot. In that case, perhaps Jankowski gets the boot instead of a late-season tryout in the bullpen. And I know Castillo is a starting pitcher, but the Dodgers will have plenty of coverage in the rotation and bullpen without him.

As for the remaining roster spots, they’ll go to the guys on the 10-day DL, starting with Cody Bellinger on Wednesday, Clayton Kershaw on Friday and Alex Wood on Saturday. Josh Fields and Brandon McCarthy will be back at some point next month as well. That would give them a full 40 active players on the September roster — more than enough to get guys plenty of rest ahead of October.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.