Dodgers Roster: Putting Together a Postseason Bullpen Projection

(Photo: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Although the Dodgers have already racked up 101 wins and have secured home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs, there seem to be several spots on their prospective postseason roster that are still up for grabs.

Even with just five games remaining on the regular season schedule, injuries may end up playing more of a factor in those decisions rather than pure ability alone.

Of course, matchups and the setup of the opposing roster will play huge factors for the Dodgers when they make their final roster announcement. Furthermore, if Los Angeles advances past the NLDS, there are no guarantees the same players who made the initial roster will be selected for the NLCS.

As far as the 25-man roster itself goes, the prospective relief corps could end up being among the most controversial roster decisions. I thought I’d try to take an early stab at figuring out how the bullpen will look when the NLDS begins on October 3.

The biggest factor in terms of actual personnel may revolve around the health of Rich Hill.  The veteran lefty “opened” the game against the Padres on Tuesday night in San Francisco, and to say he provided fans with a mixed bag of emotions would be an understatement.

Hill went from looking comfortable in warmups to losing command of his pitches to looking sharp again to grimacing in pain to sprinting back and forth to the bullpen after his official outing on the diamond was complete. He even hit a double to help the team’s offensive cause at the plate.

As it stands now, Hill will be in line to make one final start against San Francisco this weekend, but that could conceivably change if there are any ill effects that crop up after the appearance he made on Tuesday.

With or without Hill, it’s probably safe to say the Dodgers will carry a 12-man pitching staff. There are three confirmed starters—Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler—so that leaves nine players to build a crew of relievers and/or an “opener” or two.

Despite all the controversy surrounding closer Kenley Jansen, he’ll definitely be on the roster. What’s more, he’ll probably remain the squad’s closer until something drastic happens in the postseason, if that indeed becomes the case.

Consequently, there has been a bit of secrecy behind the health of fireballer Joe Kelly, but as far as we know, he should be healthy enough to pitch in the NLDS. Skipper Dave Roberts has already said that Kelly will not be available again for Wednesday’s contest in San Diego, but Kelly’s lack of appearances should not have a bearing on how effectively he throws in the postseason.

At this point, whether fans agree or not, Pedro Baez and Julio Urias are two of the most dependable setup guys on the squad. And, it’s safe to say that Adam Kolarek has definitely cemented the “LOOGY” spot. Since arriving to the Dodgers from the Rays before the trade deadline, Kolarek has made 24 appearances, posting a 0.79 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP over 11-1/3 innings, mostly in lefty on lefty situations.

Regarding the long guys, those spots will be awarded to Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling and Tony Gonsolin. As a matter of fact, if Hill isn’t able to go as the opener for a prospective Game 4, either Maeda, Strip or Gonsolin will likely assume that particular role. Either way, all three should be included on the NLDS roster.

If Hill ends up being unable to go when the NLDS rolls around, his spot will be awarded to either Yimi Garcia, Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson, Dustin May, Casey Sadler or Josh Sborz.

Coincidentally, Sadler hasn’t made an appearance in nearly a week. Over his last eight games, his ERA is 4.92 after being extremely effective upon his arrival.

Based on those conclusions, here’s my hypothetical relief crew:

  • Rich Hill (L)
  • Kenley Jansen
  • Joe Kelly
  • Pedro Baez
  • Julio Urias (L)
  • Adam Kolarek (L)
  • Kenta Maeda
  • Ross Stripling
  • Tony Gonsolin

It should be interesting to learn any news on Sadler, but if Hill is not able to go for the NLDS, the final spot will certainly involve a difficult decision on the part of Los Angeles management.


34 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: Putting Together a Postseason Bullpen Projection

  1. Can’t argue with your list Dennis. I think, barring injury, those are the nine guys. Ironic that 5 of the 9 could be classified as starters. That could ultimately be a big advantage if/when any of the starters has a bad start and has to be pulled early.

    1. Yep, that’s pretty much how I see, and saw, it. If Hill is used as an Opener he could also be used as a LOOGY on his bullpen day. It’s a solid looking pen provided Kelly is ok by then. He does have that “overall body situation” going on, whatever tf that is. It would be great if he pitches for us the way he pitched against us. He’s paid plenty to do it.

      Bear tells me Bellinger and Smith connected last night. Lux with 2 Ks, Bellinger 1, Smith none with a walk. Lux and Bellinger each with 4 LOB. Time to connect with ducks on the pond boys.

      It’s the Padres. Just take their lunch money already.

      1. That would pretty much be my list. My concern is that Hill gets injured again during the playoffs. Sadler has been pretty consistent, but they have to love what they have seen from Gonsolin. I do not see May on the roster since he has not shown consistency out of the pen.

      2. As I was writing, my thought was that Sadler gets Hill’s spot if Hill can’t go in the playoffs. I still haven’t been able to find out why Sadler hasn’t pitched in a week, though.

  2. Saw the first mention in a blog today of something that occurred to me a few days ago. I wonder if Geren will be offered one of those managerial openings, in particular the one in SF. He and Farhan go back to his days in Oakland. Not sure if I would be heartbroken if he goes, but I think he and Doc make a good combo with each bringing certain strengths. Maybe if Geren goes, we can lure AJ Ellis back to be bench coach.

    1. I would love to see AJ back in the organization. And I think Geren has to be on someone’s radar. I also believe that AJ would make a great manager. Rich Hill would be a great pitching coach. I know he wants to pitch next year, and I would offer him a one year deal, but at no where near the money he is getting now and on a reduced role, say a BP arm.

      1. Shhhhhhh! Don’t give them any ideas.
        By the way, something I’ve found very interesting in player interviews this season. Whenever an interviewer discusses hitting approaches with a player, the player usually mention Brant Brown before they mention RVS. Sometimes they mention both of them but when it’s only one, it’s usually Brant. So maybe it’s OK if the Phillies grab Rob, just leave us Brant.

  3. Not sure either Dennis. But my guess is Roberts is really auditioning some of the lesser pitchers on the roster. And they have had 2 days off. Fun Dodger facts: Been reading my 2018 Dodgers media guide. I sure wish these things were more readily available. They have so much information on the team and tons of history in them. Highest BA in a season, Babe Herman in 1930, and he did not even win the batting title. Bill Terry hit .401 that year. Highest in LA, Mike Piazza at .362 in 1997. He also did not win the title, it was won by Tony Gwynn who hit .372. Only batting titles in LA history, Tommy Davis in 62 and 63. He also holds the LA record for hits with 230 in 62. Herman holds the all time record with 241. Babe is also famous for tripling into a double play. Figure that one out. Roy Campanella is the only Dodger to ever win multiple MVP awards. Last Dodger to lead the league in HR’s, Matt Kemp with 39 in 2011. Adrian Beltre is the only other LA Dodger to do that. Davis holds the Dodger record for the most RBI’s with 153 in 1962. Campanella has the Brooklyn high with 142. If Seager had been healthy he might have had a shot at the all time Dodger doubles record. John Frederick had 52 in 1929. Seager currently has 42, The Dodgers have had some colorful characters over the years. One of them was the all-time MLB RBI’s in a season leader, Hack Wilson. Tom Hanks character in A Game of Their Own was based on Wilson. Best story I ever heard about Hack. The Dodgers at one time had a pitcher named. Boom-Boom Beck. Nickname came from the fact that the ball would go boom off of the bat and make the same sound when it hit the wall. Beck was having a bad day, and Wilson was playing RF that day. Hot, and probably hung over, Wilson was leaning against the RF wall while the manager went out to talk to Beck. When the manager decided he was taking Beck out of the game, Beck turned and fired the ball towards right field. The ball hit the wall and the napping Wilson was so startled, he picked the ball up and fired it on a line to second base. Funny story and totally true. One other fun fact, Al Campanis once traded his son. He sent his son to KC in 1968 on a conditional deal. 2 years later he was part of a deal with the Pirates that brought Bruce Dal Canton, Jerry May and Freddie Patek to KC.

  4. Tonight’s line up. Pederson RF, Muncy 1B, Beaty 3B, Bellinger CF, Seager SS, Lux 2B, Taylor LF, Martin C, Stripling P,

  5. Beginning to look like Hurdle is staying in Pittsburgh. Maddon’s future is much less certain. Remember, the Monday after the season ends is usually called Black Monday for a reason. I see more than a few on the hot seat. Arizona is trying to protect against a raid on their front office personnel according to Derrick Hall. They have upgraded a couple of execs who have ties to Boston, who are looking like they are going to have a large turnover with Dombrowski gone.

      1. Funny how most of us are really concerned that we might not have him full strength for the playoffs when in April we were wishing we hadn’t signed him.

    1. Hurdle says he’s been told he’ll be back, but he doesn’t say who told him. If it was the owner, he’s safe. If it was the GM he may be in for a surprise, because Huntington himself may be fired. If I’m the Pirates owner, I clean house.

      1. They better be careful if they clean house, because it’s very difficult to find dedicated managers who can be the least bit successful under a $98 million payroll. Pirates ownership will never spend what it takes to win in this day and age. That’s just how they operate.

      2. I do too Jefe. And maybe I sign Maddon if he wants the job.

        I think Geren will be in SF. Good fit. Other management firings will be hidings elsewhere. Anybody’s guess who goes where.

  6. You mentioned it was hard to get someone to operate with a sub 98 mil budget Dennis. I don’t know the exact figures, but I bet the Rays and A’s are doing it, and I might add they’re doing it rather successfully.

      1. I think there are more capable guys at this point than there are GM jobs. If they want someone in Pittsburgh they can find someone. What they really need is a new owner.

  7. Seager down! That is cruel! Our best player right now! Gotta feel bad for him. Just when it seemed he was back! Ouch!

    1. Seager had a mild twinge in his hammy. He just felt a little tightness so they took him out as a precaution. Not to get worried.

      1. He has a history of hammy problems. I’m worried and I’m sure they are also. He’s our hottest hitter right now.

      2. According to Roberts they are not too worried at all. He had the same twinge a couple of weeks ago and they pulled him and he did not miss but one game. I am more concerned about the slumps that have continued for some time, although Bellinger did get a couple of hits last night. One was a beautifully placed bunt, and the other a line shot to right. He has begun to hit the ball a little harder. I do not think he is going to get to Green’s team record in homers, but anything can happen in 4 games. Day game today, and the ball will fly different. Strong inning thrown by May last night. Some serious heat out of the pen if they decide to carry the kid on the roster.

  8. That was another weird one. 8 pitchers used, 13 more strikeouts and 2 more errors. Muncy, Beaty, Lux 0fer , all with 2 Ks, Jansen goes back to back and survives, and Seager hurt, again. Who cares right? We won.

    I can’t help but have a very strange feeling about this team.

    1. It was going to be a bullpen game all along once you knew that Stripling was starting. He has not gone more than 4 innings since coming off of the IL. They are simply auditioning players for the roster. Most of them out of the pen. 3 starters are locks. Ryu, Kersh and Buehler. After that, toss all the names in a hat and pick-em. I think Maeda, Jansen, Kelly, Baez, and Kolarek are the only sure things out of the pen. Stripling will get strong consideration.

      1. Yeah, Stripling opening strongly suggests others will be used. 4 innings? That would have been ideal. Then Urias/Gonsolin/May goes 3 and the back end guys finish it up. That ain’t what happened. We’ve used 16 pitchers to complete the last 18 innings. I’ve never seen that.

      2. Never will again after this year. New rules next year mean only 28 on the roster in September and only 13 of them can be pitchers. I say Strip is going to make the post season roster. May making it is a real stretch. Except for yesterday’s game, he has not excelled coming out of the pen at all.

    1. It is a tough call. Stripling has the better ERA and more experience, but I don’t know for sure that makes him the better choice.

      All these bullpen experimental innings mean little against teams whose players have their bags packed with vacation itineraries in hand. Those playoff teams that appear to be peaking would be salivating looking at what we’ve been doing lately.

  9. Today’s lineup: Freese 1B, Pollock LF, Taylor CF, Muncy 2B, Hernandez SS, Smith C, Gyorko 3B, Negron RF, Kershaw P, Turner, Seager , Bellinger, Pederson all get the day off. Seager is listed as day to day with hammy tightness. Works for me, save him for the playoffs. Dodgers 1/2 game ahead of the Yankees for best record.

  10. Is the kid changing your mind bear? That’s back to back pretty impressive performances! We can’t let Barnes hit below the Mendoza line. Give him some ab’s!

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