Kazmir's return a de facto postseason audition

Dodgers' lefty comes off disabled list on Friday vs. Rockies

Kazmir's return a de facto postseason audition

LOS ANGELES -- Scott Kazmir (neck) will make his return from the disabled list on Friday against the Rockies, a day after the return of Brett Anderson (blister) as the two veterans unofficially begin tryout mode for the fourth starter position on the first-place Dodgers' potential postseason roster.

Kazmir threw a 35-pitch bullpen on Tuesday, a usual pre-start routine, and is expected to make his return after spending nearly a month on the DL with neck inflammation. Manager Dave Roberts said that he expects the southpaw to throw around 90 pitches, but that plan could change as they monitor him during the start.

"With Kaz, he's been dealing with injuries the second half of the season. Talking to [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] and talking to Scott, myself, he feels good," Roberts said. "He's in a good place. We have to see what we have in him. He's a guy we have high expectations for, we have all season. It's been a tough year for him, but where he's at, we're confident that he can regain his form and pitch well for us."

A blister formed during Kazmir's 60-pitch simulated game on Sunday, but the left-hander insisted Wednesday that it won't be an issue during his start. The blister is located on his left ring finger and was covered during the bullpen session in a precautionary measure.

A strong first start from Kazmir would put him squarely in the conversation for the Dodgers' fourth-starter spot for the postseason, behind Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda. Anderson is also an option and is in a similar situation to Kazmir. Anderson will make a start Thursday vs. the Rockies with the hope that he can show he's postseason-ready.

Anderson allowed 11 earned runs across two starts earlier this year, but Roberts has said the lefty has improved enough that he feels his return should be more in line with track record.

"He hasn't been right his last couple of turns with the blister and the ball's not sinking," Roberts said before Wednesday's matchup with the Giants. "As I understand it, his last start, he was right and the ball was doing what it was supposed to be doing. We feel he gives a very good chance to win tomorrow night. After tomorrow, we'll see where the next start takes us going forward for him. I think the same thing for Kaz."

Also in the mix is rookie Brock Stewart, according to Roberts. Ross Stripling has also performed to a satisfactory level this season, but Roberts feels his talents will be used in the bullpen for the postseason. Both pitchers are on unspecified innings limits.

"The thing I like about Ross, in either a starting role or that role, is his pitch mix," Roberts said. He has different weapons to get hitters out, lefty or righty. I think he can throw a strike when he needs to. When you're playing in October and it gets hot and stressful and you still have to have the confidence to execute a pitch ... I believe that four-pitch mix, he can execute a pitch."

Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.