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Dodgers expect to activate pitcher Brandon McCarthy next week

The Dodgers intend to activate pitcher Brandon McCarthy “sometime next week,” manager Dave Roberts said before Saturday’s game against the Washington Nationals. McCarthy completed a six-inning rehab assignment for double-A Tulsa on Friday.

The Dodgers have not determined how McCarthy will be used during the final two weeks of the season.

“Obviously, the simple thought is to get him out of the bullpen, and to see how that looks,” Roberts said. “But if there’s a potential to get him a start, it’s a possibility.”

McCarthy posted a 2.87 earned-run average in his first 12 starts this season before coming undone from a combination of command issues, tendinitis in his knee and recurring blisters on his pitching hand. He has not pitched for the Dodgers since July 20.

BARNES LIKELY TO START ON SUNDAY

With Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg on the mound Sunday evening, the Dodgers are strongly considering starting Austin Barnes at catcher, and he appears to be moving ahead of Yasmani Grandal in the team’s backstop hierarchy.

Barnes has outperformed Grandal at the plate this season, and has earned Roberts’ confidence as a game-caller.

“Last year, my first time being around him, the game was very fast,” Roberts said. “Offensively, behind the plate, communicating with pitchers. And this year, it’s really, really slowed down, in all phases of the game. The way he’s receiving information, the way he’s communicating with pitchers and conducting himself in the batter’s box, all things very positive. Very pleased.”

Grandal, meanwhile, leads the sport in passed balls and was hitting .157 since Aug. 1, heading into Saturday’s game.

DODGERS SET ROTATION FOR PHILADELPHIA

Kenta Maeda will return to the starting rotation on Thursday in Philadelphia. Clayton Kershaw will pitch Monday’s series opener, followed by Yu Darvish and Alex Wood. Maeda’s appearance will give Rich Hill an extra day of rest.

Maeda gave up four runs in three innings in Monday’s late-night, rain-delayed mess in San Francisco.

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes

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