(Photo Credit: David Zalubowski/AP)
While there’s certainly still the matter of putting together a successful stretch run inside the final 15 games of the regular season, many fans of the Dodgers can’t help but look ahead and wonder which players will be called upon for the 25-man roster when the postseason arrives in just a few weeks.
Quite a few things still need to be sorted out until we can even make an educated guess as to how the playoff roster is formulated. Injuries will play a big part, as will the Dodgers’ prospective seeding and opponent heading into the NLDS. More importantly, there are a handful of spots up for grabs that will be won during on-field competitions, which, in essence, probably began quite sometime ago. In about a week or so, once the mathematical odds reach the point of high probability, we’ll put together a first draft of our best guess for a postseason roster. For now, we’ll go ahead and set the table by outlining a few potential areas that may draw the most attention.
While the bullpen conceivably may have the highest number of question marks come selection time, the list of position players is by far the easiest to assemble, outside of just one bubble spot. Initially, we had Austin Barnes, Charlie Culberson and Rob Segedin out, after assuming that Andrew Toles, Enrique Hernandez and Andre Ethier would all be included. But later, we stumbled upon this tweet that could reflect a different direction of thinking:
In the original line of thinking, the final bench spot came down to Segedin and Hernandez, with Enrique winning out because of his deeper versatility. With Culberson gone, there’s really nobody else to spell Corey Seager at short in a bind except for Hernandez. Turner has the capability, yet going in that direction would almost shake up the infield to the extreme. Regardless, it’s interesting that Tolesy and Ethier were mentioned in the same competition. Perhaps the front office is considering the value of a right-handed bat off the pine in a higher capacity.
As far as the starting rotation is concerned, the number of pitchers probably depends on the opponent. If healthy, it goes without saying that Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda will headline the rotation. Our initial thought was that Ross Stripling would hold down the fourth spot, but last Tuesday’s relief appearance in the sixth inning may suggest otherwise. Julio Urias was also mentioned, despite already approaching a predetermined innings limited and reportedly being bumped from the regular season rotation last week. Bud Norris, Brock Stewart and Jose De Leon will also have a few opportunities to justify spots on the postseason roster, while there’s also possibilities that Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson or Alex Wood could zip through rehab and squeeze themselves into consideration as well.
It’s definitely safe to say that the Dodgers will carry at least an eight-man relief corps into the playoffs, and outside of Kenley Jansen, Joe Blanton and Grant Dayton, we see it as a wide open audition down the stretch of the regular season. In our first rough draft on paper, we had J.P. Howell earning the final bullpen spot, with Luis Avilan, Josh Fields and Norris on the bubble. With the current trend among Dodgers’ starting pitchers to throw to right around the five inning mark, it could be possible that the club decides to carry nine relievers, while possibly sacrificing an extra body on the bench.
It’s tough to say how exactly the Dodgers’ management group views things at this particular juncture, but it will surely be interesting to see how things develop when all of the open competitions begin to unfold.
Please be sure to come back in about a week and look for our initial projections in the form of a full list along with detailed commentary, as the fun is just beginning.