Hyun-Jin Ryu logged five innings in a rehab outing for triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, which brought him one step closer to rejoining the Dodgers and one step closer to creating a familiar headache for manager Dave Roberts: A logjam in the starting rotation.
With Ryu expected to get starts for the Dodgers during the final two months of the season, Roberts will have seven starters. He does not expect the team to return to a six-man rotation, as they did briefly after the All-Star break.
The Dodgers abandoned that approach earlier this month and started shifting starters to the disabled list with minor injury. Ross Stripling will return from toe inflammation Thursday against the Colorado Rockies. Alex Wood threw a simulated game Wednesday as he misses 10 days with tendinitis in his left adductor.
Ryu is likely to pitch in one more rehab game before being activated. Roberts indicated it was a “possibility” that Ryu could make his next start for the Dodgers, but it sounds more conceivable he would expand his pitch count to six innings and 90 pitches in a minor-league setting.
“To Ryu’s credit, he pitched well, he feels well,” Roberts said before Wednesday’s game against the Athletics. “To make a decision that much more difficult, that’s a good thing for the Dodgers.”
Ryu posted a 2.12 earned-run average in his first six starts this season. He was interrupted by a torn groin muscle May 2 in Arizona. The Dodgers are hopeful Ryu can replicate his early season production.
The most likely four-man rotation for October would be Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Walker Buehler and Alex Wood. But Stripling, Maeda or Ryu could alter the Dodgers’ plans if they catch fire in September.
Wood logged three innings Wednesday with “no signs of the adductor, the leg issue,” Roberts said. He will throw a bullpen session this weekend at Coors Field. The Dodgers could activate him for a start during next week’s series against the San Francisco Giants at Dodgers Stadium.
“A lot of starting pitching,” Roberts said. “A lot of good options.”