LOS ANGELES -- Brett Anderson will make his 2016 debut Sunday against the Pirates, ending a five-month rehab following back surgery in March.The southpaw has thrown three rehab starts total between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Triple-A Oklahoma City, topping out at five innings and 71 pitches in his
LOS ANGELES -- Brett Anderson will make his 2016 debut Sunday against the Pirates, ending a five-month rehab following back surgery in March.
The southpaw has thrown three rehab starts total between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Triple-A Oklahoma City, topping out at five innings and 71 pitches in his final start Monday. He allowed three earned runs in 12 innings during those starts, striking out 11 and walking one.
"I'm excited for Brett," manager Dave Roberts said. "It's been a long road for him. To get him back, it's obviously a good thing for us."
No pitch limit was given for Anderson -- Roberts has repeatedly declined to disclose specific limits for pitchers -- but Brandon McCarthy was held to 72 pitches in a strong season debut after Tommy John surgery, so that could work as a rough estimate.
Anderson's return will bolster a rotation that is still plagued by injuries. Starters Clayton Kershaw (herniated disk), Rich Hill (finger blisters), Bud Norris (back strain), Alex Wood (elbow surgery), and Hyun-Jin Ryu (elbow tendinitis) all remain on the DL.
It was also in question whether McCarthy would make his scheduled start Saturday as a loss of fastball command had derailed his last three starts. After some minor mechanical tweaks in a pair of bullpen sessions Tuesday and Thursday, Roberts and McCarthy confirmed he will take the mound Saturday.
"It felt very normal this week," McCarthy said. "Done all the work, it's just you got to go out in games and make sure that everything is there where you need it to be when it counts. The only alternative is sit around and throw bullpens forever."
Julio Urías was the team's backup starter if McCarthy or Anderson weren't ready this weekend, but with those two holes filled up, the team will use the 20-year-old out of the bullpen as a long reliever. The team has lacked a long reliever since Ross Stripling was brought into the rotation.
The next starter to return will likely be Hill, who said that he could possibly throw a bullpen session Saturday and return for the team's series in Philadelphia next week. Hill has repeatedly said he felt ready to pitch even though the team has twice delayed his Dodgers debut due to a new blister lower on his finger.
"I can very strongly say that the finger feels ready to go," Hill said. "Little things kept popping up and just trying to get it to heal. We were doing everything that we could and everything in my power to make it heal, whether it was rice, some rub on it, some things to toughen the skin, but really just time. You have to be patient and let that skin heal."
The last time Hill threw in any game was July 17 when he was still with Oakland, but the first blister forced him out of the game before he got an out. Despite that time away from a mound, Hill said he doesn't feel he needs a rehab start.
"I don't feel like I do. Get some work off the mound and get going, that's really it," Hill said. "It's not like I haven't been keeping my arm in shape, but with the competition part of it, I haven't faced hitters, I would argue, probably in like a month. Mentally, I feel very good to go. I prepare myself every single day."
More injury updates
• Right-hander Joe Blanton was activated from the bereavement list on Friday, with left-hander Luis Avilán sent down in a corresponding move.
• Roberts said he felt "no hesitation" in putting Corey Seager in Friday's starting lineup after Seager took a fastball to the right wrist Wednesday.
• Kershaw was seen throwing from 90 feet at Dodger Stadium on Friday and Roberts said he hoped the ace will throw again Saturday.
• Roberts said a September return for Andre Ethier is "certainly realistic," but with the caveat that he doesn't know in what capacity. The outfielder is currently taking batting practice and jogging at the team's Camelback Ranch facility in Arizona.
Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.