While some fans of the Dodgers feel that the remaining three regular-season games against the Giants don’t mean much, there’s still plenty of roster spots up for grabs heading into the NLDS. Furthermore, many eyes will be on the American League scoreboard, as the outcomes involving the Yankees and the Astros could have bearings on the Los Angeles schedule down the road.
By no means is the postseason roster set in stone. Skipper Dave Roberts has indicated that several spots may depend on the prospective opponent, which will not be determined until Tuesday evening of next week. What’s more, injuries can still have an effect on which Los Angeles players are ultimately selected to the NLDS roster.
If you read my column on Wednesday, you would have seen my selections for the entire pitching staff for the NLDS, despite the opponent being unknown. Obviously, my selection of Rich Hill depends on his health, but there will be other factors that go into the final selections like whether the opposing club hits lefties or right-handers better, whether they dominate fastball or breaking pitches, or simply which player-on-player matchups favor whoever.
I still believe that Ross Stripling and Tony Gonsolin will be included on the NLDS roster regardless of the opponent, which leaves quite a big bubble for the final spot on the pitching staff, assuming the Dodgers do indeed carry 12 arms.
Initially, my bubble players were Hill, Yimi Garcia, Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson, Dustin May, Casey Sadler and Josh Sborz. If Hill does make the roster, and if Stripling and Gonsolin are also included, that doesn’t leave room for any of the aforementioned bubble players. Problem solved.
However, after further digesting my selections, and after witnessing how effective May and Sadler—especially May—were against the Padres, the final pitching staff choice may be worthy of some additional thought.
I suppose the underlying question is whether May or Sadler are better selections than a battered Hill, who is far from being 100% healthy. Certainly, Hill’s outing against the Giants on Sunday will be a key indicator, but what if he limps through his outing a little like he did against San Diego this week? What if there’s enough in his performance that says he could be good in the postseason, but still leaves a bit of uncertainty?
Over his first seven big league appearances—four of which were starts—May left a mixed-bag type of impression. He was decent in his starts, but his relief performances were dreadful, leaving many fans doubting the decision of management for giving May a shot at throwing in relief.
In those first seven games, May tallied a 5.11 ERA after surrendering 17 runs—14 earned—on 28 hits and four walks over 24-2/3 innings of work.
However, here’s where May’s potential postseason value comes into play. Over his last seven games, he has thrown nine scoreless innings and has surrendered just five hits and a walk while striking out a whopping 13 batters. During those seven games, opponents have hit just .167 against him. Granted, four of those appearances came against the Giants, Orioles and Padres (2), but it’s still a decent indicator of how far May has come at the big league level. Plus, when considering his deadly arsenal, it’s probably safe to say that may has one of the highest ceilings in the organization when it comes to pitchers.
Sadler got off to a sizzling start after arriving to Los Angeles from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline, but his numbers have fallen off significantly as of late. In a Dodgers uniform from July 15 through August 22, he posted a crazy 0.68 ERA in 10 games and 13-1/3 innings of work. After August 22, he has tallied a 4.26 ERA as a result of surrendering six earned runs on 16 hits in 12-2/3 innings over 13 games.
Obviously, ERA isn’t the best tool in the world when it comes to evaluating relievers, but perhaps the biggest disadvantage for Sadler is that he’s much more effective against righty hitters than lefties. Right-handed batters have both hit and OBP’d more than 20 points more than left-handers. Righties have also slugged 86 points higher than lefties. The Dodgers already have a bonafide LOOGY in Adam Kolarek, but they probably won’t be carrying a ROOGY when they have plenty other versatile righties available.
And, as far as Hill goes, what good will his roster inclusion do if he’s unable to find his command in a potential Game 4 when, as the “opener,” walks the bases loaded and surrenders the first run of the game after hitting a batter, only lead to his being replaced before even recording an out?
Obviously, I exaggerate, but who else remembers the game against the Orioles on September 12?
At the end of the day, Hill definitely has experience and drive in his favor while May has the tools, the velo and a much higher ceiling. Sadler is probably somewhere in between.
Who do you choose?