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With time running out, Dodgers will test rotation options

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves in a tricky spot, close to winning a fourth consecutive National League West title while still needing to see what kind of roster assets they have for a potential postseason run ahead.

So with a magic number still standing at seven to clinch the division, the Dodgers know they are running out of time to give a pair of pitching options a few opportunities to prove themselves.

The Dodgers will ask Brett Anderson to come off the disabled list and start against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday and Scott Kazmir to face the Rockies on Friday. Depending on how they perform, both could end up with one more start next week at San Diego before decisions have to be made.

The Dodgers are looking for a possible fourth starter for the playoffs -- assuming they clinch eventually. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda would make up the first three spots of a postseason rotation.

Anderson started the season on the disabled list after a back procedure in spring training. He returned Aug. 14, struggled in two starts and went back to the DL with a blister issue on his left index finger. His last minor league outing was a solid five innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City in the playoffs.

Kazmir has been on the disabled list since Aug. 23 -- the same day Anderson went on the DL -- first with neck inflammation. He was later diagnosed with thoracic spine inflammation.

“I think with Kaz, he has been dealing with injuries the second half of the season, so in talking to [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] and Scott, he feels good. He’s in a good place, and I think we have to see what we have in him.”

Anderson and Kazmir are not the Dodgers’ only fourth-starter options for the playoffs. Rookie Jose De Leon could be used in that role as well. De Leon will be skipped this time through the rotation, but Roberts said “he is still in the mix.”

Yet another option is rookie Ross Stripling, but he will be used as a swing man out of the bullpen for now. Roberts said that even Brock Stewart is in the mix to possibly get another start at some point.

So is the move to Anderson and Kazmir this week a nod toward October, or is it seen as the Dodgers’ best chance against the Rockies?

“It’s about trying to win those baseball games [Thursday and Friday],” Roberts said. “When Brett is right, and he was not right the last couple of turns with the blister, we feel he gives us a very good chance to win. And then after that we will see where the next start takes us for him.

“And the same thing for Kaz. He hasn’t been heathy, but I have complete confidence in our training staff and in Kaz that he feels good enough to give us a chance to win. His track record has to be given some credit.”