As there are conceivably several different factors which may influence the management crew of the Dodgers when selecting the prospective roster for the upcoming NLCS, one can only presume that the majority of the squad chosen for the Division Series will stay intact—a formula which convincingly did its job in a three-game sweep over the Diamondbacks.
There are still four full days before the beginning of the Championship Series, which will commence on Saturday, October 14 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. What’s more, the Dodgers still don’t know their future opponent, as the Cubs and Nationals are still battling in a Division Series of their own. If Washington finds a way to claw its way back to tie the series on Tuesday evening, a decisive Game 5 will be played on Thursday in the nation’s capital to determine which club advances.
As far as the Dodgers go, the taxi squad for the NLDS consisted of Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Charlie Culberson and Joc Pederson. All four of these players remained with the team during the entirety of the Division Series, and may be considered for spots in the upcoming NLCS. In addition, Tim Locastro, Walker Buehler and Brock Stewart were sent to a mini-camp at Camelback Ranch in Arizona for the sake of staying hot, just in case their respective services may be needed at some point down the road in the postseason.
One of the more interesting roster changes that’s possible for the NLCS is the inclusion of reliever Luis Avilan. The 28-year-old lefty found himself off the NLDS roster after suffering from shoulder soreness a few days before the beginning of the series. Avilan posted a 2.93 ERA and a 2.96 FIP over 61 appearances and an even 46 innings of work during the 2017 regular season. Avilan threw well in a bullpen session last Sunday at Dodger Stadium, and is expected to take part in another on Wednesday.
“He’s on track, he feels good. The ball was coming out well,” manager Dave Roberts said in Monday’s pregame chat with the media. “So when we get to that point, he definitely will be in the mix.”
The Dodgers carried just two southpaws—Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani—in the NLDS bullpen, but found themselves exhausted of lefty relief options in Game 1 when both Watson and Cingrani were used well ahead of the beginning of the seventh inning. Interestingly enough, Pedro Baez and Ross Stripling were the only two members of the relief corps not to be used at all in the NLDS.
Speaking of not being used, there has already been some speculation about where exactly lefty starter Alex Wood will slot into the NLCS rotation. Wood hasn’t thrown in a game since September 26 against the Padres and could undoubtedly use the work. Yet, based on the success of the starting trio of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Yu Darvish, one can assume that this particular order will stay in place, as Wood could possibly partake in a simulated game type of situation to keep his arm fresh while holding down the No. 4 slot.
Another revelation which may be taking place—although it won’t affect the overall makeup of the roster—is the emergence of catcher Austin Barnes. The 27-year-old Riverside native went 4-for-8 with a double and home run in the NLDS after hitting .289/.408/.486 over 262 plate appearances during the regular season. Barnes started in Game 2 and Game 3 of the NLDS after Yasmani Grandal went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the series opener last Friday. Barnes was typically used as the starting catcher against left-handed pitching during the regular season, but garnered the start against veteran righty Zack Greinke in Game 3 on Monday based on his recent offensive success.
The official rosters for the NLCS are due to the MLB front office the morning of Saturday, October 14.
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