LA Dodgers: 3 September Call-Ups That Can Make an Impact Down the Stretch

Geoff Ratliff@@geoffratliffContributor IIIAugust 31, 2012

LA Dodgers: 3 September Call-Ups That Can Make an Impact Down the Stretch

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers made several trades over the past six weeks to improve their roster. But injuries will force a few of their September call-ups to have a major impact as the Dodgers make a push towards the playoffs.

    Los Angeles addressed significant needs by acquiring Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett. But injuries to Ted Lilly, Chad Billingsley and Kenley Jansen have depleted L.A.’s depth.

    The Dodgers are four-and-a-half games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West, so every remaining game is crucial. 

    Relief pitcher Matt Guerrier was recently activated from the 60-day disabled list, and shortstop Dee Gordon will be activated soon.  

    Their returns will help Los Angeles tremendously, but here are three September call-ups that will help the Dodgers over the season’s final month.

Stephen Fife, RHP

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    Stephen Fife was huge for the Dodgers in July, making three starts for Los Angeles after Nathan Eovaldi was traded to the Miami Marlins.

    Fife posted a 2.16 ERA over 16.1 innings. He also demonstrated an ability to pitch out of jams despite a 7:9 K/BB ratio. 

    But the acquisition of Joe Blanton in early August forced Fife out of the rotation and back to the minors. 

    With major league rosters expanding to 40 players on September 1, Fife will become an important part of the Dodgers' pitching staff.

    Blanton has been awful in his five starts for Los Angeles, going 1-3 with a 6.67 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP. 

    Right-handed starter Chad Billingsley could be out for the year with an elbow injury that derailed a brilliant second half.

    If Blanton continues to struggle or Billingsley is unable to return to the Dodgers this season, Fife will be the first player called upon to step up and fill the void.

    Even if he’s not needed in the starting rotation, he can help out in long relief out of the bullpen.

Javy Guerra, RP

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    If Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen’s irregular heartbeat continues to be an issue, Javy Guerra could eventually be called upon to reclaim closer duties. 

    Guerra thrived in the role during the 2011 season, converting 21 saves in 23 opportunities for Los Angeles. But that success did not carry over to 2012. 

    He blew five saves in 13 chances before losing the job to Jansen in early May. 

    Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly has said that Brandon League and Ronald Belisario will split closing duties while Jansen is out. But Guerra should also factor into the mix.

    Guerra didn’t give up a run over his last nine MLB appearances before being sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque earlier this month. If he can continue that success when he's recalled, he’ll provide a major boost to the Dodgers' bullpen.

Scott Van Slyke, OF/1B

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    Although Scott Van Slyke struggled at the plate during his 27-game, first-half call-up, he’ll improve the Dodgers' bench down the stretch.   

    The 26-year-old OF/1B will get a few starts in the outfield and at first base as Los Angeles plays 31 games over the season’s final 34 days.

    Van Slyke crushed the ball in Triple-A Albuquerque, belting 17 home runs with a triple-slash line of .321/.402/.565. 

    That combination of power and the ability to get on base are much-needed additions to a Dodgers' lineup that is mostly filled with free swingers.  

    Los Angeles OF/1B Juan Rivera’s .240 average, .279 on-base percentage and seven home runs haven’t helped the Dodgers much this year.  

    Maybe Van Slyke can provide the spark that ignites a September to remember for Dodgers' fans.