3/14/2014 8:45 P.M. ET
Several candidates for few spots in Dodgers' bullpen
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- Friday's Dodgers game turned into a parade of relievers on the bubble.
Paco Rodriguez, Javy Guerra, Jamey Wright, Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez each pitched an inning against the Cubs, but the math probably won't allow all of them to make the Opening Day roster in Australia next week.
Of the group, Wright has the only guaranteed contract, for $1.8 million, which will help management overlook an ERA that soared to 10.50 after he was charged with four runs Friday, even though the inning could have been scoreless with tighter infield defense.
The Dodgers will probably keep 12 pitchers for Opening Day against the D-backs in Australia, three of them starters -- Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Paul Maholm.
Fellow starters Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Josh Beckett are expected to be left in Arizona, Greinke and Haren as "exempt" players who can be activated when the club returns from Australia. Beckett, dealing with a thumb injury, is more likely to be put on the disabled list, because as the fifth starter, he's not needed until mid-April because of scheduled days off.
The Dodgers might like to use a third exemption on reliever Brandon League, whose results and usage this spring have been sporadic and probably could benefit from another week of Spring Training. He pitched in a Minor League intrasquad game on Friday. League has two years remaining on a guaranteed contract, so a Minor League assignment is off the table.
Besides, the club might need to hold the third exemption for outfielder Carl Crawford, whose fiancée is expecting their baby any day. If Crawford misses the flight Down Under, Joc Pederson might be on it.
So, barring a late injury, the bullpen will have Kenley Jansen, Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, J.P. Howell, Wright and possibly League.
That leaves three or four spots for Friday pitchers Rodriguez, Guerra, Withrow and Dominguez, plus Rule 5 Draft acquisition Seth Rosin.
The club has options on Rodriguez, Withrow and Dominguez, which makes them the easiest to send to the Minor Leagues.
Guerra is out of options and could be lost if he doesn't remain with the Major League club. Guerra (2.57 ERA) allowed one run on one hit with a walk Friday and wasn't happy with his outing. Rosin almost surely will be lost back to the Phillies if the Dodgers don't keep him in the Major Leagues.
Because of management's affinity for "inventory," it's unlikely the club would leave both Guerra and Rosin unprotected.
Rodriguez was one of the toughest lefties in the league last year, until heavy usage seemed to trigger a tailspin that left him off the National League Championship Series roster. Despite a 0.00 ERA, he has been working through mechanical adjustments this spring and allowed a single and a walk Friday, but escaped a jam by picking a runner off first base.
Withrow overcame a walk with a pair of strikeouts and didn't allow a run, lowering his ERA to 4.26. Last year, when Rodriguez faltered and Ronald Belisario lost focus, Withrow stepped up and was overpowering down the stretch, but a little wild, as he's been this spring.
Then there's Dominguez, perhaps the most intriguing pitcher on the roster because he effortlessly registers triple digits on the radar gun. Dominguez hasn't allowed a run with seven strikeouts in seven spring innings.
Rosin is an outlier who doesn't have the velocity expected from his large body, but has enough deception with his delivery and command of his pitches to post an impressive 12-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio with a 1.64 ERA.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.