Daily Distractions: What Tuesday’s walk-off win means for the Dodgers’ October plans.

Scott Van Slyke

Scott Van Slyke (left) gets a Gatorade bath courtesy of teammates Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez during his postgame interview Tuesday. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

With 18 games left in the season, the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the National League West is six. Their competition: A .500 team that just lost back-to-back games in Dodger Stadium and doesn’t appear capable of stringing together more than three wins in a row (the Diamondbacks’ last winning streak of more than three games was a five-game heater back on July 3-7).

That four-game losing streak the Dodgers brought home from Cincinnati suddenly seems less dire.

October seems more real.

With that comes the interesting manner in which Don Mattingly handled his bench in Tuesday night’s 5-3, 11-inning win, and whether it’s a useful template for how the Dodgers shape their postseason roster.

Dee Gordon pinch-ran for Adrian Gonzalez in the 10th inning. Mattingly admitted after the game that he would have pinch-ran Gordon earlier. Before the game, Gordon took ground balls at second base and shagged fly balls in the outfield — an excellent sign that the Dodgers would like Gordon, a natural shortstop, to become more versatile come playoff time.

Scott Van Slyke hadn’t homered in more than three months before Tuesday, and was only Mattingly’s fourth choice off the bench (after Jerry Hairston, Skip Schumaker and Michael Young, who played first base in the 11th inning). One might argue that he was the fifth choice. Nick Punto was set to pinch hit instead of Schumaker had Mark Ellis reached base to lead off the ninth inning.

So did Van Slyke swing himself into an October roster spot with his two-run walk-off shot against Arizona? Maybe. He might need a few more big hits like Tuesday’s.

The factor working against Gordon and Van Slyke is experience. Juan Uribe and Carl Crawford are the Dodgers’ only starting position players who have played in a World Series. Starters Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco have eight combined starts in October. Kenley Jansen, Paco Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario or Brandon League have never pitched in the playoffs.

That’s a huge boost for Hairston, Schumaker and Punto — who have all won World Series crowns.

A few more bullet points for a Wednesday morning:
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Dodgers reinstate Brian Wilson, option Scott Van Slyke to Albuquerque.

The Dodgers finally added Brian Wilson to their active roster Monday, 20 days after the former San Francisco Giants closer signed with the team through the remainder of the season.

Wilson threw a simulated game Friday in Philadelphia and recovered well enough to join the Dodgers’ expanded bullpen for the first of three games against the Miami Marlins. The Dodgers chose to option Scott Van Slyke to Triple-A Albuquerque rather than a relief pitcher, giving the Dodgers eight relievers and a four-man bench tonight.
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Scott Van Slyke recalled from Albuquerque; Dodgers option Dee Gordon.

Scott Van Slyke

Scott Van Slyke was recalled to the Dodgers from Triple-A Albuquerque for the fourth time this season. (Getty Images)

The Dodgers optioned shortstop Dee Gordon to Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday — but not to make room for Brian Wilson.

Even though Wilson is with the Dodgers in Philadelphia, outfielder Scott Van Slyke was recalled from Albuquerque and is taking Gordon’s spot on the active roster, the team announced Friday.
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Scott Van Slyke lands on the disabled list as the Dodgers shuffle the deck.

Scott Van SlykeIt’s only June, but the Dodgers have already used the disabled list 20 times on 15 different players.

Scott Van Slyke became the latest to join the ranks of the wounded Tuesday, when an MRI exam revealed bursitis in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Van Slyke received a cortisone injection and said he should be ready to return to the lineup once the 15 days are up.

Outfielder Alex Castellanos was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque prior to Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Skip Schumaker got the start in left field with Andre Ethier in center and Yasiel Puig in right.

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Daily Distractions: A game that broke the mold.

Nick Punto

Nick Punto went flying in this collision with Angels runner Erick Aybar last night. It was a wacky game. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers’ 7-6 win last night broke the mold in many ways. Lost amid the doubles, the Matt Kemp boos and the blown call at first base, here are some factoids that I couldn’t fit in my game story:

- The Dodgers’ comeback matched their largest of the season; they beat the Diamondbacks on May 22 after trailing by five.

- Previously, the Dodgers were 0-15 when allowing six runs or more.

- The ninth inning remains a virtual all-or-nothing proposition. Say what you want about Brandon League as closer, but the Dodgers are 20-1 when leading at the start of the ninth inning. They are 0-23 when trailing to start the ninth.

- Adrian Gonzalez‘s six errors lead all major-league first baseman. Next is the New York Mets’ Ike Davis, with four. Gonzalez, who has won three Gold Glove awards, had a busy day. He also failed to pick a ball out of the dirt and pulled his foot off the bag on a throw from catcher Ramon Hernandez in the first inning. Yet he kept his foot on the bag despite a poor throw from Luis Cruz in the ninth inning, completing a double play.

- The Dodgers’ six doubles were a season high.

More bullet points for a Tuesday morning:

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Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke has a stiff neck, but unlikely to go on disabled list.

The Dodgers will have to make room for Jerry Hairston Jr. on the active roster tomorrow somehow.

Hairston played back to back games for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday and Saturday, and Don Mattingly wanted to give Hairston the day off Sunday, but he’s expected to come off the disabled list in time for Monday’s game against the Angels. Hairston was placed on the DL on May 6 with a strained left groin.

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Daily Distractions: Important roster decisions coming. Who will the Dodgers cut?

Jerry Hairston Jr.Mark EllisThe Dodgers are in the market for a pair of infielders.

Mark Ellis and Jerry Hairston Jr., currently on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps and left groin, respectively, are expected to join the team at some point during this weekend’s road trip to Atlanta. Both are rehabbing tonight with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts.

But to take each off the disabled list means that another player must come off the active roster, and the choices are not obvious. After all, who expected Elian Herrera to get the first call-up when Hairston went on the disabled list two weeks ago?

That said, barring any (more) injuries, these are the four players whose time with the Dodgers may be at least temporarily up:

Luis Cruz. A gifted third baseman/shortstop, Cruz hasn’t hit enough this year to justify being on a major-league roster. In 69 at-bats, he has six singles for a .087 batting average and slugging percentage. Cruz is out of options, so the Dodgers would probably have to designate him for assignment. The prospect of closing the book on last year’s feel good story (and a player whose jerseys are still displayed prominently in the window of the Dodgers’ team store) has become a story in and of itself.

Ramon Hernandez. At 38, Hernandez’s bat speed isn’t what it used to be. He’s batting even below the Cruz Line, at .045, and the Dodgers have two catchers ahead of him on the depth chart. The Dodgers have two first basemen ahead of him on the depth chart, too, in Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Van Slyke. Like Cruz, Hernandez would probably be designated for assignment since he’s been out of options since 2002.

– Van Slyke. Sending Van Slyke out doesn’t make as much sense, given the Dodgers’ need for power and a backup first baseman/corner outfielder, but they’ve cut him loose before. In nine plate appearances, SVS has a single, a home run, two strikeouts and a walk.

Dee Gordon. Like Van Slyke, there are reasons to keep Gordon but history isn’t on his side. The Dodgers never wanted Gordon playing an everyday shortstop role in the majors until he was ready, and Gordon’s .220 batting average and negative UZR (which is actually up from last season) aren’t strong signs of readiness. The Dodgers could easily platoon Cruz, Nick Punto, Juan Uribe and Hairston on the left side of the infield until Hanley Ramirez returns from the disabled list.

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:

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Scott Van Slyke returns, Elian Herrera optioned to Albuquerque.

As expected, the Dodgers selected the contract of Scott Van Slyke and added him to their major league roster Friday. Elian Herrera was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque and Chad Billingsley was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL to make room for Van Slyke.

Van Slyke was hitting .397/.503/.733 for Albuquerque, with a team-leading nine home runs and 30 RBIs.

“He’s got a chance to hit a ball in the seats,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

Mattingly said he wanted a right-handed bat in the outfield and an additional jolt of power. The Dodgers have hit 23 home runs as a team, the second-fewest total in the National League, and Herrera relies as much on the bunt as the line drive to get on base.

Herrera started in left field Wednesday and got one hit in three at-bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Van Slyke is available off the bench tonight.

Daily Distractions: Are the Dodgers bringing up Scott Van Slyke today?

Scott Van SlykeScott Van Slyke has been promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque, but the Dodgers haven’t announced it yet, tweets Rob Rains.

The move would come as no surprise. The Dodgers wouldn’t move Van Slyke from first base to both corner outfield positions –- right field on Tuesday, left field on Wednesday — if they weren’t getting him ready to give Andre Ethier and/or Carl Crawford a day off.

The Dodgers would have to make a roster move to add Van Slyke to the 40-man roster. Since he’s not on the 40-man, the Dodgers would technically be selecting his contract rather than recalling him from Triple-A. Moving Chad Billingsley, who’s out for the season following Tommy John surgery, from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list would do the trick.

If there’s more to report, we’ll have it here.

Some bullet points for a Friday morning:
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How much will Elian Herrera play for the Dodgers?

Elian HerreraElian Herrera will be available to the Dodgers off the bench today and manager Don Mattingly hinted that Herrera would spell Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford or right fielder Andre Ethier in the starting lineup tomorrow.

Ethier hasn’t been given a day off by the manager (not the schedule) since April 7, Crawford since getting back to back days off on April 30 and May 1. That’s weighed on Mattingly lately, though he acknowledged that the injuries to Jerry Hairston Jr. and Mark Ellis last week left him little choice until both players ultimately went on the 15-day disabled list.

“We’ve had a lot of guys hurt and it’s like we just keep throwing everybody else out there,” Mattingly said. “We want to have that option on the left-hander, to give Carl or Dre a day off.”

The Dodgers will see a left-hander, Wade Miley, tomorrow in the series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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