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Dodgers Activate Michael Grove, Place Phil Bickford On 15-Day IL


The Dodgers shuffled up their pitching ranks with a few transactions today, including Michael Grove’s activation from the 15-day injured list.  Los Angeles also called right-hander Tayler Scott up from Triple-A Oklahoma City.  In the corresponding moves, southpaw Justin Bruihl was optioned to Triple-A, and righty Phil Bickford was placed on the 15-day IL due to lower back tightness.

Grove will start today’s game against the Yankees, which will mark his fifth start of the season.  One of the Dodgers’ top pitching prospects over the last few years, Grove made his MLB debut with 29 1/3 innings in 2022, and has 16 frames under his belt thus far in 2023.  The results haven’t been there, as Grove has a 5.96 ERA over his 45 1/3 innings in the bigs, including an 8.44 number this season.  Grove’s struggles were then compounded by a groin strain that has kept him on the IL since April 21.

The righty will get another look in the rotation for at least one more start, though the Dodgers’ ongoing battle with pitching injuries could very well mean that plans change yet again.  Some notable reinforcements could be coming in the form of Julio Urias, as manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times) that Urias had a bullpen session today that involved around 30 pitches.  Urias has been out until May 19 due to a hamstring strain, but might be in line to return next weekend if all goes well with a live batting practice session slated for Tuesday.

Noah Syndergaard will start Wednesday’s game, with Roberts telling the L.A. Times’ Mike DiGiovanna and other media that despite Syndergaard’s struggles, “we want to continue to bet on him.”  With a 6.54 ERA over 11 starts and 52 1/3 innings, Syndergaard hasn’t been at all what the Dodgers expected after signing him to a one-year, $13MM free agent contract.  Roberts’ statement might well indicate the club’s continued faith that Syndergaard might turn things around, yet the other issue is that L.A. doesn’t really have any ready-made replacements on hand, due to all of the injuries.  If Urias returns as planned and Grove can impress in his next start or two, the Dodgers could potentially give Grove a longer look at Syndergaard’s expense.

Bickford has a 7.33 ERA over 27 innings out of the Dodgers’ bullpen, though his much more palatable 3.70 SIERA indicates that Bickford has been somewhat unlucky.  His .362 BABIP and a 56.8% strand rate haven’t been in his favor, but Bickford’s 52.7% hard-hit ball rate and 13.5% barrel rate are both amongst the highest in the league, so it isn’t as though the righty has simply been the victim of some batted-ball luck.

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