Gray's debut imminent; Seager nears return

July 20th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, Josiah Gray, was on the team’s taxi squad on Monday and is expected to make his Major League debut on Tuesday, according to manager Dave Roberts. 

While Gray will likely make his debut Tuesday, his role has not yet been determined. The Dodgers still haven’t listed a starter for Tuesday’s game against the Giants and Gray is certainly in the mix. But if the Dodgers get through Monday’s game without burning many of their bullpen arms, the Dodgers could opt to start with an opener and have Gray pitch the bulk innings. 

Pitching behind an opener is something Gray and the Dodgers experimented with in the right-hander’s last start at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Gray followed an opener and went 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and striking out seven. 

The fact that Gray was able to get into a fifth inning is what makes the Dodgers comfortable in calling up the right-hander. Gray missed two months earlier this season with a right shoulder impingement and would’ve already made his debut earlier this season had it not been for the injury. 

But with Clayton Kershaw on the injured list and the uncertainty surrounding Trevor Bauer, the Dodgers need some length and Gray can certainly provide that. It’s unclear just how long Gray will be in the Majors, but the Dodgers could also use his length on Sunday against the Rockies. The Dodgers will have to make a 40-man roster move in order to add Gray to the roster.

Gray has made four appearances with Oklahoma City this season, going 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA and striking out 22 over 15 2/3 innings. The 23-year-old will be available to give the Dodgers six innings, if needed.

“Obviously with a player like Josiah, we were very careful as far as ramping back up, the rest, and there’s no signs of the previous injury,” Roberts said. “I think we’ve been very good with the ramp-up and where he’s at. We feel good right now.”

Regardless of role, it’ll be a big day for the Dodgers and the right-hander. Gray turned out to be the prized prospect in a trade with the Reds in 2018 that sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood to Cincinnati. Interestingly enough, Wood is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Giants on Tuesday. 

“We’re excited for Josiah to be here [and] be active,” Roberts said. 

Seager’s timeline

has been sidelined since mid-May, but the star shortstop could return to the Dodgers’ lineup as early as Wednesday. 

After taking seven at-bats in a simulated game over the weekend, Seager took part in live batting practice on Monday at Dodger Stadium against right-hander Corey Knebel. Seager took a handful of swings against Knebel, who threw 15-20 pitches in the first big step in his rehab process.

“He looked really good,” Roberts said. “I think with Corey, as intuitive with his swing as he is, his focus in the simulated and live at-bats, it allows [not playing in simulated games] to be more realistic."

Seager will have the day off on Tuesday, but if the shortstop doesn’t experience any soreness in the right hand, he could be in the lineup on Wednesday. Getting Seager back in the lineup would give the Dodgers a huge boost, especially considering Gavin Lux -- who served as Seager’s replacement -- will “miss some time” with a left hamstring strain.