We’ve been talking about the prospective Opening Day roster for quite some time now, and there’s no doubt the bullpen is an area of the team which may not be solidified until the final days of camp.
Initially, there was a bit of speculation surrounding the inclusions of Brock Stewart and Yimi Garcia on the Dodgers‘ 25-man, but once we found out that Stewart has a fourth option available to him—coupled with the way Garcia has been throwing during Cactus League play—the picture became a bit more clear.
While these choices are by no means 100% locks, here’s what we have so far on the big league roster (assuming an eight-man crew is utilized to open the year):
- Kenley Jansen
- Joe Kelly
- Pedro Baez
- Dylan Floro
- Tony Cingrani
- Scott Alexander
- Ross Stripling
- Yimi Garcia
If both Baez and Kelly throw like they did down the stretch of the 2018 season, the Dodgers may have one of the most potent relief crews in the National League—one that even rivals the highly acclaimed Milwaukee bullpen. Obviously, much of the Dodgers’ success will depend on the performance of Jansen, but for the first time in a few years, Los Angeles has a little bit of breathing room in the crew, needing not to depend on Jansen for every single closing scenario.
Of course, Stripling could be jettisoned to the starting rotation without notice—insert your Clayton Kershaw health predictions here—but there are plenty of arms, like Josh Fields for example, who should be ready to jump right into a big league role.
Young lefty Caleb Ferguson, for all intents and purposes, is still being groomed as a starter, so chances are good that he’ll begin the season as the headliner of Triple-A Oklahoma City’s starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts has said there may come a time during the season when Ferguson is needed in the big league bullpen and that the club will not hesitate to utilize him, so we’ll likely see him throw in relief at some point, most specifically towards the end of the year and into the playoffs.
The same can be said for Dennis Santana and Yadier Alvarez. Both are still seen as starters, despite each having the ability to hit triple digits. Santana, by all indications, will be ready to go early. Alvarez, however, was shut down recently, sort of. He’s being examined and monitored closely by staff during a period where he’s making adjustments mechanically.
In the same breath, young righty Josh Sborz has been recently appointed to the 40-man roster, and should be available exclusively as a relief option after being switched back and forth between starting and relieving during his first several years in the system.
Farther down the ladder in the minors, righty Jordan Sheffield is another converted starter who may potentially make some noise in the bullpen.
Joining Fields as legitimate fringe options are JT Chargois, Kevin Quackenbush, Jaime Schultz, and Adam McCreery. It may be worth mentioning that the entire quartet has options aside from Quackenbush, which seemingly gives the club added roster flexibility. Quackenbush is not on the 40-man roster, so it will not affect his minor league usage unless his contract is eventually purchased by the parent club.
Additionally, veterans Justin De Fratus, Daniel Corcino and J.D. Martin—despite making livings as starters— could always make enough noise to garner consideration for the big league bullpen. Corcino had his contract purchased last June and made three appearances for the big league squad last June. The 31-year-old De Fratus was named to the Texas League All-Star team last year as a member of the Tulsa Drillers.