While many thought the NLCS roster of the Dodgers would be almost identical to the squad which captured the Division Series in a three-game sweep over the Diamondbacks, the club announced several changes on Saturday morning, most notably the exclusion of shortstop Corey Seager, who has been suffering from back problems.
Seager missed team workouts on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, as it appears his injury is more severe than many originally anticipated. Manager Dave Roberts initially described Seager’s problems as being muscular in nature.
Also missing on the NLCS roster is hard-throwing reliever Pedro Baez, who, after being included on the NLDS squad, did not appear at all in the sweep over Arizona. Baez had a 2.95 ERA and a 4.44 FIP over an even 64 innings during the regular season, but struggled mightily with his command during the latter stages of the summer.
Replacing Seager and Baez on the roster are utility man Charlie Culberson and center fielder Joc Pederson. The 28-year-old Culberson slashed .250/.299/.336 with four home runs and 14 doubles with Triple-A Oklahoma City before being added to the Dodgers’ expanded roster in early September. Pederson, who was demoted to OKC in mid-August in hopes of rediscovering his swing mechanics, hit .212/.331/.407 with 11 long balls over 323 major league plate appearances this year. Even after rejoining the big league squad in September, he was often seen experimenting with even more stances and swinging patterns than the repertoire he deployed in the regular season.
With the moves, the Dodgers are now employing 11 pitchers and 14 position players after carrying an eight-man bullpen and only 13 position players in the NLDS. Full details of the newly announced NLCS squad can be found on our roster page.
What this means for the Dodgers, at least against right-handed pitching, is that Chris Taylor will presumably move to shortstop, while Curtis Granderson slides over to center field and Andre Ethier in left. Against southpaws, Los Angeles will have the option of moving Taylor back to center and utilizing lefty-killer Enrique Hernandez at short. Presumably, Pederson is expected to be used as a left-handed bat off the bench, exclusively against right-handed pitching.
First pitch for Game 1 of the NLCS is slated for 5:08 p.m. Los Angeles time.
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