Besides the discussions about how close the Dodgers and the Braves are for home-field advantage throughout the National league playoffs, one other hot topic gaining momentum is which players will be included on the Los Angeles NLDS roster to begin the postseason.
As far as the pitching staff goes, one of the biggest factors surrounds the progress in the recovery of veteran starter Rich Hill. The lefty recently completed another successful bullpen at Dodger Stadium on Monday, and his next step will be facing live hitters. Should everything workout according to plan, most believe that he’ll slot into the playoff rotation as the fourth starter.
If that’s indeed the case, what it likely means is that Tony Gonsolin will be a member of the NLDS relief crew, potentially pushing guys like Yimi Garcia, Caleb Ferguson and Dylan Floro out of the bullpen picture completely.
Obviously, injuries and health will play huge parts in determining the final NLDS roster. Besides Hill, some of the major concerns at the moment are the health of players like Alex Verdugo, Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson. Of course, some are more serious than others, but all are definitely worth keeping a close eye on. At this stage of the game, if any type of serious injury crops up anywhere, it could end up being detrimental for a player in terms of a roster spot.
One specific situation to consider is a potential battle between two young left-handed hitters in Matt Beaty and Gavin Lux, which could end up being one of the final roster decisions if everyone else is healthy. Beatty has a bit of an MLB track record from which to judge, while Lux will be doing all his auditioning from this point forward.
Beatty definitely has more value on defense as he can handle many more positions in both the infield and outfield, but his biggest downfall is that he’s never had much success against lefty pitching—even throughout much of his minor league career. That said, over the next several weeks, it will be interesting to see if Lux gets some opportunities at the plate against opposing southpaws.
The crazy thing about Lux is that his 2019 splits at Oklahoma City were absolutely fantastic. His overall Triple-A slash line was an insane .392/.478/.719 in 199 AB. Against right-handers, he hit .395/.484/.752 over 157 AB. In 42 AB against lefties, he slashed .381/.458/.595. Most of his power numbers resulted from his success against righties, but the numbers are still outstanding.
MLB pitching is surely a different animal, but it will be intriguing to observe how Lux is used down the stretch. If he’s riding a hot offensive streak into the playoffs—with some success against lefty pitching—he could end up earning a spot on the postseason roster, despite Beaty’s defensive versatility, late-game heroics and ability to contribute off the bench.
For fans who love to hypothesize and speculate, there will definitely be a lot to chew on over the coming weeks.