During their quest for their sixth consecutive National League West crown, the Dodgers certainly made good use of the expanded roster, as plenty of players were given numerous opportunities to prove their respective values down the stretch run of the regular season. At first glance, many fans thought the process of determining the team’s 25-man playoff roster would be a difficult one; however, aside from a few bubble players, most of the decisions should be relatively easy.
Probably the simplest way of approaching a projection is to list the most common lineup, which features mostly left-handed hitters against a would-be opposing right-handed pitcher:
- Joc Pederson – LF
- Justin Turner – 3B
- Max Muncy – 1B
- Manny Machado – SS
- Cody Bellinger – CF
- Yasiel Puig – RF
- Enrique Hernandez – 2B
- Yasmani Grandal – C
Of course, the actual lineup itself will be the subject of scrutiny, but all of us can definitely agree that these will be the principal players.
As far as the bench players go—also known as the group who would likely be starting against an opposing southpaw—the team would have Austin Barnes as the secondary catcher, mainly because the club wouldn’t consider Kyle Farmer or Rocky Gale to call a game on their own. Farmer made a few previous postseason rosters, but in this year’s version, there’s just too much other bench talent to warrant his inclusion. Regardless, the final position player spots would be given to Matt Kemp, Chris Taylor, Brian Dozier and David Freese.
In theory, the final spot may come down to a decision between Dozier, Freese and veteran leader Chase Utley. The club may very well surprise pundits and include Utley, mainly because Dozier’s offense has been borderline invisible since arriving in Los Angeles. Still, Dozier provides an exceptional defensive option at the keystone, perhaps giving him a clear edge in the end. Nevertheless, an Utley inclusion—as small of a chance it may be—isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.
And, while 22-year-old outfielder Alex Verdugo may be among the Top 3 most talented outfielders in the entire organization, the experience of all the other aforementioned outfielders, especially with regards to the postseason, weighs out his inclusion.
The starting pitching crew of Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler and Rich Hill is a given. There could be a bit of uncertainty about the order until all the dust settles on the finalized NLDS schedule.
We already had a brief discussion about the bullpen almost a week ago. At the time, lefty Alex Wood was struggling to re-acclimate himself into the relief crew, but he has certainly proved his value in his most recent outings. Accompanying Wood will be Kenley Jansen, Kenta Maeda, Caleb Ferguson, Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez and Ross Stripling. The final bullpen spot could boil down to a decision between Dylan Floro, Josh Fields or Ryan Madson; but at the moment, Floro definitely has the best stuff among the trio, at least in my own opinion.
It’s possible that the club may opt for either seven or nine relievers, but right now, eight seems about right, considering they’re likely to use four starting pitchers and five bench spots for position players.
Please stay tuned, as we’ll do our best to report any team news or roster updates when they become available.