GLENDALE, Ariz. — Brett Anderson can’t do anything right now.
That was Dave Roberts‘ response when I asked him for an update about the left-handed pitcher who underwent surgery on a bulging disk in his lower back Thursday. Anderson isn’t expected back in camp for another week.
“As I understand it, he’s just supposed to kind of lay low right out of surgery,” Roberts said.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said Thursday that he didn’t feel motivated to bring in another starting pitcher to potentially compete for a job because he likes the depth in the clubhouse.
So, about that depth. Now that the Dodgers are down two starters — Anderson and Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder), who’s out until May at the earliest — how will it affect some of the swingmen down on the depth chart?
There are at least three healthy pitchers in camp whose role could be defined by the injuries to Ryu and Anderson: Carlos Frias, Jharel Cotton and Yaisel Sierra. (Another potential “swingman,” Frankie Montas, had surgery to remove a rib on Feb. 12 and was given a 2-to-4 month timetable to return.) All three should be able to start or relieve depending on the team’s needs at the time, and it probably isn’t fair to label them one or the other at the moment.
Roberts said recently that Sierra is on a reliever’s program, but the front office views him as a potential starter. “If you looked at our club on that day (Tuesday), it was the ‘pen,” Roberts said Friday. “That was his chance. But he’s a guy that has length and he’s got three pitches, so we definitely — length is good for Sierra.”
There’s still no timetable for Sierra to get into a Cactus League game, but Roberts believes we’ll see him at some point this month. The Cuban right-hander hasn’t faced live hitters yet.
Cotton is on a starter’s program and is scheduled to throw two innings out of the bullpen today against the Texas Rangers in Surprise. The 24-year-old right-hander saw time at Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A in 2015. He started 10 games and relieved another 10, and was added to the 40-man roster after the season.
“Jharel’s going to continue to get built up,” Roberts said. “He’s got a three-pitch mix and we see him as a starter.”
Frias pitched two innings in the Dodgers’ 6-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. Roberts said the right-hander is a two-inning guy for now, “then we’ll see if we have to build him up more.”
Frias started 13 games last season for the Dodgers and relieved another four, going 5-5 with a 4.06 ERA.