As the Dodgers fly into Washington D.C. to begin a three game weekend series they’re enjoying a rare day off on Thursday. The schedule has been brutal for the Dodgers who have played the majority of their games over the last month on the road. August saw the Dodgers home for just 8 games and they had trips to Pittsburgh, Detroit, Arizona, Atlanta, and New York. This month sees the Dodgers traveling to San Francisco, Washington, and Philadelphia ending the regular season in Colorado.
The Dodgers finally snapped their pathetic Los Angeles record 11-game losing streak by winning two out of three against the Giants in San Francisco. The series win was the first since the Pittsburgh series in August causing many non-believers to believe in miracles. Despite the horrible stretch the Dodgers still have the best record (94-52) in baseball and a 10 game lead in the NL West. Their magic number to clinch the NL West is now at 7 games.
The Dodgers are going to clinch their fifth consecutive NL West title, probably on this current road trip. With the playoffs fast approaching the Dodgers will be looking to set their postseason roster. So I think it’s time for me to take a crack at it. Here’s my postseason roster if I were running the Dodgers.
The Pitching staff
Normally you would go with a standard 12-man pitching staff. In the postseason you only need three starters, four in a long series. Remember if someone gets hurt you can have them replaced even if in mid series. Here are my four starters.
Obviously Kershaw would open the NLDS pitching games 1 and then again in game 5 if needed. Despite Darvish’s struggles I think the Dodgers will still go with him as their number two starter. Even though Darvish has been inexplicably bad since being acquired on July 31, he showed signs of life in his last start on Wednesday in San Francisco. He tossed seven shutout innings in the Dodger’s 4-1 win over the Giants. Hopefully that’s the start of him putting the command problems behind him.
If Wood is healthy he’ll be the third starter for the Dodgers. Wood has been battline inflammation in his SC joint the latter part of the season but has turned in a terrific season. Wood has a 14-3 record with a 2.81 ERA. He’s been arguably the second best starter for the Dodgers (behind Kershaw) all season long.
Rich Hill would be the fourth starter if needed. The southpaw has had an up and down season but is still striking out 10.7/9 and allowing just 7.0 hits per nine innings. He was flawless in July posting a 4-0 record and a 1.45 ERA with a 40K/5BB ratio. He’s rebounded this month after a poor August, allowing only four earned runs on 6 hits across 11 frames with a 3.27 ERA.
If you’re going to use 4 starters that means you’ll use 8 relievers in the bullpen. Let’s start with the locks. Closer Kenley Jansen, Brandon Morrow, Josh Fields and Pedro Baez are all locks. Morrow and Fields should pitch the seventh and eighth innings. I wouldn’t even touch Baez in the playoffs but we all know Dave Roberts will continue to go with him in high leverage situations no matter how much he proves to the Dodgers that he absolutely can’t pitch in those scenarios.
I would carry Hyun-jn Ryu as a long man/spot starter just in case. That leaves three spots remaining. The Dodgers need two left handers. My choice would be Tony Cingrani and Luis Avilan. Say what you will about Avilan but he’s had a very good season. He’s posted a 2.89 ERA in 58 appearances and struck out 48 against 19 walks in 43.2 innings pitched. He’s posted a 2.92 FIP and struck out 9.9 per nine innings.
Cingrani should get the other spot. He’s struck out 22 and walked just 3 batters in 15 innings pitched since joining the Dodgers. He’s been pretty good after having a couple of really bad outings. He’s allowed just one home run and struck out 13.2 per nine.
The last spot can go to Ross Stripling which means Tony Watson, Edward Parades, Kenta Maeda, Wilmer Font and Josh Ravin are all off the roster. What about Walker Buehler? Too inexperienced in my opinion.
That leaves 13 remaining spots for position players. Obviously guys like Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, and Chris Taylor are all going to make the roster. Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes will also make the roster. With Bellinger at first base, Seager at Short, Turner at Third, Taylor in center, and Puig in right field means that three positions are up for grabs, catcher, second base and left field.
I would have Yasmani Grandal be the starting catcher unless he is physically unable to do so. I know this is very unpopular right now among fans because Grandal is in a prolonged slump. Even with the slump Grandal is still a legitimate power threat (19 home runs) and one of the best pitch-framers in the game. Pitch-framing is very important because the more strikes you steal the more outs your pitching staff records.
With Grandal behind the plate, that means Barnes should get the nod at second base. Logan Forsythe has been a disaster at the plate, although he’s not altogether horrible. Despite the lack of production he still gets on base at a good clip and has a steady glove. I’m fine with him on the bench. Barnes is a better hitter than Forsythe and younger and faster. He’s having a terrific season and there’s no reason to keep him out of the lineup in favor of a weaker hitter.
All that’s left is to figure out who plays left field. This is where the Dodgers have options, but none of them are very good. At this point I think the best choice is to have veteran Andre Ethier play against right handers and Enrique Hernandez against lefties. I can’t believe I’m writing this but Hernandez has been productive against left handers this year, posting a 145 OPS+. He’s atrocious against right handers, so in those games you can starts Ethier.
The other options aren’t appealing. Joc Pederson is a mess. Curtis Granderson is in the worst slump in his career and an automatic out. You’re not going to play Charlie Culberson obviously and the only other choice is rookie Alex Verdugo who has two weeks of MLB experience. In this case I would take experience over anything. Ethier hasn’t played much this year but if you remember he had two key hits for the Dodgers in postseason last year after receiving little playing time in September. His single in game 4 of the NLDS helped setup Chase Utley’s game-winning hit and then he homered in game 1 of the NLCS against the Cubs.
So when Ethier is in against a right hander the bench would consist of Utley, Hernandez, Kyle Farmer (With Barnes starting at second it’s a good idea to have a third catcher on hand) Forsythe, Joc Pederson. That pushes veterans Adrian Gonzalez, Granderson, and rookie Verdugo off the roster. Sorry guys.
Here’s how the batting order should look against right handers
Against a left hander……