I, like many of you, miss baseball a lot right now. It’s been two weeks since Game 7, and I finally feel ready to move forward, but spring training doesn’t start for three months. Until February, we have the holidays, we have the joy of winter, and we have offseason trades and free agent signings. Though the offseason is not nearly as riveting as Game 7, it’s still something, and it’s worth getting excited about. In the past, my predictions as to who the Dodgers would sign have been, for the most part, incorrect and conventional.
Needless to say, the journey through the 2017 season for righty reliever Pedro Baez was a rocky one. Near the halfway point of the campaign, his ERA was almost microscopic, yet when the Dodgers‘ roster was selected for the NLCS against the Cubs, his name was omitted. In early September, he was frequently booed by fans at Dodger Stadium, as skipper Dave Roberts took to the press a number of times to defend him.
While it hasn’t yet been a week since the conclusion of Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, there’s already been a ton of speculation stirring on how the Dodgers will fill in the blanks for the prospective 2018 player roster.
Sooner or later, when you exclusively depend on the success rate of mathematical probability as your primary influence of decision making, things are going to backfire. Ultimately, predictability is not how things will go, but how they can go. And things didn’t go quite the way Dodgers‘ skipper Dave Roberts had hoped in Game 2 of the World Series in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening.
Heading into the deciding Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS on Saturday evening, the most popular talk among fans of the Dodgers seems to be revolving around which American League club provides the more favorable matchup for Los Angeles. Plenty of different criteria is being thrown around and about—regular season stats, managerial success rates in the postseason, who plays better in certain weather—just to name a few. But at the end of the day, playoff baseball is such a completely different animal, as it’s almost impossible to predict the mindset of the team which will take the field in the opener.
Prior to the 2017 campaign, 29-year-old pitcher Kenta Maeda had never made a relief appearance outside of a single game for the Hiroshima Carp during his 2008 rookie season in the Japan Central League. But the manner which he handled himself in the bullpen during the NLDS sweep over the Diamondbacks may have persuaded the management crew of the Dodgers to use the right-hander in similar higher-leverage relief spots moving forward into the playoffs.
As it’s been nearly two weeks since we published our initial projections of the Dodgers‘ roster for the 2017 NLDS, several circumstances have transpired which in turn have shed some light on the squad which will take the field at Dodger Stadium on October 6.
Just like that, the regular season is over. Despite the challenges of the 2017 campaign, the Dodgers still finished with the best record in baseball—104-58. None of that matters anymore, for now it is the postseason, and the best record in baseball will only get you home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The rest you have to do yourself. Now the focus is on the players mentally and physically preparing for what lies ahead, the coaching staff studying up on the competition, and the front office and coaches assembling the best possible roster to finally take the Dodgers to the World Series.
The final series of the regular season in Colorado has been nothing short of action-packed, to say the least. The offense of the Dodgers has once again been showing some signs of waking up in critical situations, and the relief corps has proven that it’s capable of taming one of the hottest offenses on the senior circuit. Yet, among all these exciting twists and turns, there are still a few playoff roster spots up for grabs. One of the vacancies which has seemingly been garnering the most attention among those familiar with the club is the final spot in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Among the minds of many fans of the Dodgers, there seems to be the speculation that there are quite a few auditions currently being held for spots on the prospective NLDS roster. Yet, outside of perhaps one or two last minute decisions, the roster is probably close to being solidified—at least in the eyes of the management crew. One of the final contemplations, however, will be trying to figure out how to put the finishing touches on the bullpen, which could very well boil down to the inclusion of either Kenta Maeda or Hyun-Jin Ryu.