The Dodgers have been temporarily going with a six-man rotation, a strategy they expect to end in a week. By then, left-hander Rich Hill may find his blister issues behind him and be ready to return to the rotation. And coming not too far behind Hill could be left-hander Scott Kazmir.
"As an organization we're going to have some tough conversations," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Two starters, and probably three, could find themselves on the outside, pitching in relief or in the Minors.
There are only a couple of rotation locks. Ace Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 2.29 ERA) and his three Cy Youngs aren't going anywhere. Now that phenom Julio Urias has been called up, he figures to be in the rotation indefinitely. Brandon McCarthy started 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA.
Kenta Maeda labored through his first four starts (8.05 ERA), but pitched well Friday (two runs, eight strikeouts in seven innings). Hyun-Jin Ryu is returning after missing almost two seasons after shoulder surgery and elbow tendinitis, but after starting 0-3 with a 5.87 ERA, he also looked much improved in his last start (one run in six innings). Alex Wood has a 3.14 ERA in three starts.
And then there's Hill, who was signed to a three-year, $48-million deal to be their No.2 starter.
"You don't always think it's going to come to that point where everyone is healthy," Roberts said. "That's a good thing, but it also creates difficult conversations."
Only Wood and Maeda have options left. Wood has also pitched well out of the bullpen and could be headed back. The Dodgers had discussed the possibility of using Hill out of the bullpen to ease the pressure on his blister issue, but they have shelved that for now.
"I know we talked about it, but for the short term I think we're going to build him back up as a starter and insert [him] when he's healthy and can stay healthy," Roberts said.
Hill threw a three-inning simulated game Saturday and he's scheduled to throw four innings (or 60 pitches) in a rehab start Thursday for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. After that, his next appearance could be in the rotation.
And since recalling Urias Friday, the Dodgers have temporarily gone with a six-man rotation. Maeda is scheduled to start Friday in San Diego.
"We're going to run it out, probably through that weekend and kind of go from there," Roberts said. "In the short term, we have six guys that we're running out there. It's not going to be for the rest of the way. But right now, it's the way it is."
Steve Dilbeck is a contributor to MLB.com based in Los Angeles.