Dodgers engage in a bit of roster trickery to bolster their bullpen.

Kenta Maeda

Kenta Maeda leads the Dodgers in innings pitched this season, but he’ll spent three days on the roster of the Rookie-level Arizona League Dodgers. (Denver Post photo)

Prior to Friday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, the Dodgers optioned their top starting pitcher to their lowest minor league affiliate.

Why is Kenta Maeda a member of the Arizona League Dodgers tonight?

Well, the Dodgers needed to make two roster moves, one to clear a spot for new catcher Carlos Ruiz, and another to add pitcher Brock Stewart, who will serve as a long reliever the next two days (or might start Sunday’s game against the Chicago Cubs).

To do so, catcher Shawn Zarraga was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, a move that was expected from the moment Zarraga arrived Thursday night.

Far less expected: Maeda was optioned to the Dodgers’ short-season Rookie League affiliate. Because their season ends Sunday, Maeda will be allowed to rejoin the active major league roster Monday in Colorado for his anticipated start against the Rockies. The Dodgers have no plans to alter their rotation.

Maeda will lose three days of service time, at which point the Dodgers will have to make another roster move.

Ruiz, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies for A.J. Ellis on Thursday, becomes the 54th player to appear in a game for the Dodgers this season.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.