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Injuries make Dodgers' rotation a balancing act

Roberts naming probable starters on day-to-day basis; Urias could return by late July
MLB.com @kengurnick

DENVER -- The Dodgers have picked up six games in the standings while the starting rotation has been shredded by injuries. So manager Dave Roberts has kept his head, even though his naming of probable starters is on a day-to-day basis.

After Alex Wood starts on Sunday and the team has a day off on Monday, Roberts is sure only that Ross Stripling will start on Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Pitchers for Wednesday and Thursday are to be announced, because Roberts said the club would prefer to give Saturday night starter Walker Buehler, Wood and Stripling an extra day of rest to try to keep them healthy.

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DENVER -- The Dodgers have picked up six games in the standings while the starting rotation has been shredded by injuries. So manager Dave Roberts has kept his head, even though his naming of probable starters is on a day-to-day basis.

After Alex Wood starts on Sunday and the team has a day off on Monday, Roberts is sure only that Ross Stripling will start on Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Pitchers for Wednesday and Thursday are to be announced, because Roberts said the club would prefer to give Saturday night starter Walker Buehler, Wood and Stripling an extra day of rest to try to keep them healthy.

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"We're more on that side of the fence," Roberts said of giving the trio extra rest, offering Dennis Santana and Brock Stewart as unconfirmed starter candidates. "We're going to talk about that after tonight's game."

Of the four Dodgers starters on the disabled list, Roberts indicated that the order of their return would likely be Kenta Maeda first, followed by Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu. In their absence, Dodgers starters have gone 7-1 with a 2.38 ERA over the past 15 games.

Ryu, out with a bad groin pull until after the All-Star break, was moved to the 60-day disabled list on Saturday to make room for left-handed pitcher P.J. Conlon, who was claimed from the Mets and optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City for depth. Conlon, a 24-year-old native of Ireland, was designated for assignment by the Mets after making two relief appearances. He played in college at the University of San Diego.

Kershaw went on the disabled list on Friday for a recurring back injury that is expected to keep him out until sometime in July.

Hill is trying to toughen the skin on his blistered middle finger by throwing with it uncovered on flat ground when he's not maintaining arm strength by throwing with it covered off a mound. He is still weeks away because he must show through simulated games and a Minor League rehab assignment that he can pitch deep into games, as opposed to the two-pitch start of his last outing. A simulated game next week in Pittsburgh is a possibility.

Video: LAD@WSH: Hill leaves after 2 pitches with blister

"He's got to go up and down five times [innings]," said Roberts. "We have to have assurance he can go deep."

As for Maeda, out with a strained right hip, he resumed playing catch on Saturday. Roberts said he could return as early as mid-June, after the Dodgers get some help from the schedule maker with off-days on June 11 and 14. They will have only two more days off between June 14 and the All-Star break, which begins July 16.

Video: SF@LAD: Urias fans Pence to escape jam in the 3rd

Roberts said he had not heard a recent update on Julio Urias, who had shoulder surgery on June 27, but he speculated that Urias might be game ready by the end of July.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers