In case you have not noticed in recent years, come Sept. 1 the strategies involved in baseball changes quite a bit as Major League rosters expand from 25 to 40 players. With the minor league season wrapping up you can expect some familiar names to reappear on the Dodger bench for the rest of the regular season.
As of Thursday, the Dodgers have a 9.5 game lead over Arizona for first place in the NL West with 29 games left in the season. That means that with a combination of 21 Dodger wins and Diamondback losses, Los Angeles will clinch the division and a spot in the playoffs.
With a lead like that you might see some of the everyday players taking time off so they are rested and ready to go for the playoffs, but who will be on the bench as their replacements? Don Mattingly was not willing to divulge such information, "We have ideas, but obviously we don't want to go around throwing around names just yet. There will be some guys who come up right away."
Mattingly may not be naming names, but we can still make some educated guesses, starting behind the plate. You can certainly expect Drew Butera to join the club, giving them a third catcher, something Mattingly would have liked on Tuesday night, "in that game, if A.J. gets on (in the ninth inning), I'd end up running Jerry Hairston. Then I burn him and have to put Fed(erowicz) in the game instead of having an extra guy here."
Dee Gordon is another certain call-up that would help in a situation like the one they faced with Ellis on Tuesday. Gordon will mostly be used for that extra "flash" of speed on the base paths in late innings.
Scott Van Slyke and Alex Castellanos will be called up to provide some pop off the bench. In AAA Albuquerque the two combined for 29 doubles, six triples, 22 home runs and 108 RBI's.
The bullpen will also get some extra help, Javy Guerra and Peter Moylan are both on the 40-man roster and will eat up some innings, especially if the Dodgers limit starting pitchers to fewer innings in the final month of the season.
One relief pitcher you should not anticipate back soon is Jose Dominguez. His rehab on his strained quad is ongoing, and although he will not need surgery, it is moving along slower than expected.
Even before the September call-ups, there is always the possibility of a waiver-deadline trade. Colletti has brought up several names to Mattingly, but so far no deals have been made. In fact, the Dodgers agreed to a deal with Edinson Volquez, who was recently cut by the Padres, so we will see if he gets added to the 40-man roster right away or not.
Another welcome addition coming to the roster is Matt Kemp. He will be starting his rehab assignment this weekend in Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, and will play in at least five games if the team misses the California League Playoffs.
You can expect some of these names added to the roster starting on Sunday, while others will be added as the minor league season wraps up.