(Photo Credit: mlb.com)
(Update: On Tuesday evening, Dave Roberts revealed to media that Dodgers will carry three catchers on NLDS roster, meaning Austin Barnes will be on 25-man. He also said Charlie Culberson has made roster, while Enrique Hernandez will be sent back to Arizona to stay hot. Julio Urias will be Dodgers Game 4 starter if Kershaw doesn’t come back on short rest. Seven-man bullpen will consist of Jansen, Blanton, Baez, Dayton, Fields, Avilan and Stripling.)
Quite a few things have changed in the Dodgers camp since we put together our initial postseason roster projections almost 10 days ago. While the final handful of regular season games served as a tuneup or polishing tool for many of the regular players, they also doubled as auditions of sorts for those that were considered on the bubble by the team’s management crew. Although many of the predictions from our first rough draft are holding true, a few changes in our guesses have taken place, and we think we’re now pretty close to the 25-man squad the club will field for the NLDS beginning on Friday.
Yesterday, we learned of the unfortunate news surrounding the required surgery on reliever Adam Liberatore‘s elbow. He’s expected to be ready to throw by the beginning of next season, but in the meantime, as many of the pundits included the 29-year-old southpaw in their postseason bullpen projections, it opens up a playoff roster spot for somebody else. For us, it’s a pretty easy fix. We had Ross Stripling as our designated fourth starter/long man in the rotation, so we’ll just slide him to the bullpen and move Julio Urias into the rotation spot. Manager Dave Roberts confirmed the inclusion of Urias shortly after the publication of our first roster post, and eventually hinted that the 20-year-old rookie may be considered to start Game 4 of the NLDS depending on the circumstances.
We also involved righty reliever Louis Coleman on our initial list, but his performances down the stretch of the regular season were borderline awful. We were still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, though, until we saw his stats against the Nationals earlier in the year. It’s indeed a very small sample size, yet in three appearances and 12 batters faced against Washington this season, Coleman has surrendered five hits, including three for extra bases, in what tallied to be exactly two full innings of work. When the dust settled, the Nats hit an even .500 off Coleman in 2016 with a 1.483 OPS. If the Dodgers ultimately advance to the NLCS, he could be considered for the roster based on matchups, but for the time being, we’re almost certain he’s not on the roster.
The same can probably be said for veteran lefty J.P. Howell. A 4.09 ERA and a 1.401 WHIP over 64 appearances hardly justify a playoff spot, and that’s not even mentioning that he was primarily used in low leverage scenarios, especially during the days leading up to the clinching of the division.
So while there’s really not much to write about in regards to the bullpen’s depth chart, we’ll go ahead and replace Howell with southpaw Luis Avilan and give Coleman’s spot to another lefty, Alex Wood. We still have Jesse Chavez alive and well on the playoff roster, but his spot may boil down to a tough decision involving fellow righty Josh Fields.
As far as the position players go, we feel we’re still pretty much right on the money, unless the management team decides to carry an extra bench piece instead of an eight-man relief corps. If any change were to be made, we’d probably go with utility man Charlie Culberson over Enrique Hernandez, if only for a slight offensive upgrade. The sole reason for the inclusion of Hernandez in our first draft was his ability to cover shortstop, but his inability to produce at the dish at any point this season may basically seal his fate as a spectator in the playoffs.
All that being said, here’s how our final stab at the Dodgers’ NLDS roster shapes up:
Outfielders (5) – Josh Reddick, Andre Ethier, Andrew Toles, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson
Infielders/Outfielders (1) – Howie Kendrick
Infielders (5) – Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Chase Utley, Charlie Culberson and Adrian Gonzalez
Catchers (2) – Carlos Ruiz and Yasmani Grandal
Starting Rotation (4) – Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Julio Urías
Bullpen (8) – Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Ross Stripling, Luis Avilan, Joe Blanton, Jesse Chavez, Grant Dayton and Alex Wood
There could conceivably be several minor developments that could warrant a few changes, but outside of maybe two really tight bubble spots, we feel that we’re very close with the above list. In the meantime, please make sure to stop back on Wednesday for a look at the current state of the Nationals, and be sure to stay tuned for any commentary once the official 25-man roster is finally revealed by Dodgers’ management.