Predicting The 2017 Dodger Roster

It’s far too early in the spring to make any type of determination about the 2017 Dodgers yet. So far through 9 exhibition games the Dodgers have a 5-4 record. There are some things we do know, such as Clayton Kershaw will be the opening day starter, and Corey Seager will be the shortstop. Otherwise it’s just too early to tell anything yet. We haven’t even seen the first round of cuts yet.

With that being said I would like to take a stab at predicting the 2017 Dodger’s opening day roster. There are two things to consider here. First of all, I am going to make my own predictions based on what I would do if I was tasked with putting together the Dodger roster. I am not predicting this based on what I think the Dodgers will actually do. The second thing to consider is the possibility of injury effecting how the roster will be built. So here it goes….this is my 2017 Dodger roster.

The starting rotation

Clayton Kershaw

Rich Hill

Kenta Maeda

Julio Urias

Alex Wood

If someone were to ask me how I would build a pitching staff I would tell them it would be based on three things. Those three things are innings, health, and skill. Experience is important too, but innings and health are a huge requirement. I suppose I would start with two very good starting pitchers. Then I would acquire another very good starter. Perhaps the last two spots of a five man rotation could be given to a young prospect, or a savvy veteran. I would build a standard 12-man pitching staff with plenty of southpaws.

As for the Dodgers, We know that the top three are going to be Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda. That would be my top three as well. The final two spots are up in there air between several youngsters, and horde of walking wounded.

The Dodgers have several young starters that can be put into the rotation. Of course top pitching prospect Julio Urias, who made his MLB debut for the Dodgers last season should be in the rotation. The Dodgers naturally want to limit his innings, but they can still do that at the major league level with him pitching every fifth day. Right handers Ross Stripling, and Brock Stewart give the Dodgers a couple of fungible back-end options that can start or relieve.

Then you have the injury riddled veterans. Left handers Hyun-jin Ryu, Alex Wood, Scott Kazmir, and right hander Brandon McCarthy could all be options if they are healthy. But that’s a big if. I think Wood has the most talent and the best chance of being healthy and productive. Ryu was a good pitcher. But unfortunately shoulder injuries can be career enders. McCarthy and Kazmir are awful and unlikely to remain healthy for more than 10 starts this season. Ryu can start the season on the disabled list, and maybe Kazmir can be placed in the bullpen as a spot starter/long man. McCarthy should be given his unconditional release.

A major league bullpen is normally a seven man pen. What we do know is that closer Kenley Jansen and newly signed Sergio Romo are both a lock to make the club, obviously. You could probably add Grant Dayton into that as well. A successful bullpen needs a good closer, and at least two good left handed options. You also need a good spot starter/long man to provide innings. The Dodgers have three left handed relief options, (Adam Liberatore, Grant Dayton, and Luis Avilan). I think Avilan has options, so I would take Dayton and Liberatore. If you remember Liberatore was awesome in 2016. Here’s my seven man bullpen.

Bullpen

Kenley Jansen-CL

Sergio Romo

Grant Dayton-LHP

Adam Liberatore-LHP

Pedro Baez

Josh Fields

Scott Kazmir

Hopefully Baez figures out how to pitch a little quicker this season. Romo replaces the departed Joe Blanton as the primary set-up guy. Dayton and Liberatore are the left handers, and I like Josh Fields as a middle guy. I think Kazmir could provide the Dodgers with some innings as a long man.

Lineup

Ethier LF

Seager SS

Turner 3B

Gonzalez 1B

Grandal C

Forsythe 2B

Puig RF

Pederson CF

Pitcher’s Spot

Most of the positions are set. The only spots up for grabs are the roster spots on the bench. We know that Adrian Gonzalez is going to be the starting first baseman despite getting scheduled off days. We know that Logan Forsythe will be the second baseman and Corey Seager will be the shortstop. Justin Turner will be at third base and Yasmani Grandal will be the opening day backstop. The outfield will consist of Yasiel Puig in right field, Joc Pederson in center field, and I think Andre Ethier in left field. So far Ethier has looked really good this spring and he seems to be recovered from his broken leg he suffered after fouling a pitch off of his shin last spring.

Unfortunately speed and athleticism are lacking in the Dodger lineup. They don’t have a true lead-off hitter either. Their best bet is to have Ethier or Forsythe leading off. Ethier has always had good on-base skills and you want your top three hitters to be able to get on base. Anyways, those are the starting eight and I would not platoon any of those positions possibly with the exception of left field.

The Bench

Franklin Gutierrez

Scott Van Slyke

Chase Utley

Austin Barnes

Charlie Culberson

Here’s what we know about the Dodger bench. Austin Barnes is going to be the backup catcher. In a 5-man bench this leaves four remaining spots. Veteran Chase Utley will be making the squad as well will Franklin Gutierrez. That leaves two bench spots left. It’s important to have balance as well as defensive flexibility for the bench. Gutierrez will be the fifth outfielder, but his health is questionable. Andrew Toles is talented and a pretty good outfielder, however the Dodgers need a player that can backup at first base, and third base. They’ll also need someone that can backup at shortstop in case something happens to Seager.

Kike Hernandez is not that guy. He provides little to no value and I would immediately give him his unconditional release. I like Charlie Culberson. He’s a great defender, and defensively versatile. He can backup at short, third and in the outfield. That leaves us with one spot open. We could not place Culberson on the roster, and have Scott Van Slyke and Toles. However we need someone that can play shortstop. I think Toles has options and Van Slyke doesn’t, so I would take Van Slyke. I would try and find a way to keep Toles though. Is Trayce Thompson able to play this spring? He could be a valuable depth piece if he is healthy. Apparently he is making his cactus league debut next week so we will see. Back injuries are tough to recover from.

Since Culberson is not on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding move would need to be made. Giving Kike his unconditional release would clear room for Culberson. Ryu and McCarthy can start the season on the disabled list and the rest of the guys not on the roster can start in Oklahoma City if they have options.

Disabled List-Ryu- McCarthy

Unconditional Release-Hernandez-Hatcher-Taylor

Outright Option-Thompson-Ravin-Eibner-Segedin-Stripling-Stewart-Avilan

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda’s Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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22 thoughts on “Predicting The 2017 Dodger Roster

      1. Nyah. It’s an opinion piece, not an actual prediction, which you clearly lay out.

        I just have a few questions that boggle my poor brain:

        1. Why McCarthy should be give-
        Oh wait. Excuse me. You actually change your mind pretty quickly on McCarthy. First in the sixth paragraph you claim McCarthy should be given his outright release (what exactly is the thinking in doing that now, when the team wouldn’t do it at the end of last year?) But then by the end of your essay you either forgot that or changed your mind into thinking he could be just stowed away on the IR. For how long would you put him on the IR?
        2. That Kazmir can pitch out of the bullpen, in long relief?
        3. How pitching Urias on 5 days rest is going to limit his innings?
        4. That the Dodgers should NOT platoon? What’s your thinking there?

        None of those seem to be based in the reality that I experience here on Earth. But it’s a good article and one that should spawn good discussion, I hope.

        1. In regards to McCarthy, I still think he is useless and one of the worst signings the front office has ever made. However I understand that he is making a lot of money and might provide some innings. Perhaps if he is healthy he may be able to contribute. Stashing him on the disabled list gives the club an extra option when he is able to pitch.

          If Wood, Mccarthy, Ryu, and Stripling can pitch out of the bullpen why wouldn’t Kazmir be able to do it?

          Placing Urias in extended spring training does no good for his development. He needs to be pitching against live competition every fifth day. Pitching simulated games is not the same thing as pitching against live batters. You can still watch his pitch counts and limit his innings while allowing him to pitch in the majors, or at the least in OKC. The goal is to build his arm strength, not sit him for weeks and allow him to get rusty. AT some point you have to let him pitch.

          I don’t like platoons. I think it’s ok if there are extreme splits, or if you are in a small market where resources are limited and you are unable to acquire everyday starters. Otherwise platoons are a waste of time. Having a set lineup allows players to get comfortable, they know their roles and you can get the most out of their performances. In addition, the starting players are much better than the bench players. The bench players are not meant to be starting players, that’s why they are on the bench. Utility players should never be in platoons with players that are considerably better than them. Resting players is ok. Utility guys should stick within their roles as late inning defensive replacements, or pinch-hitters. I guess you could say I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to that.

          1. None of that platoon stuff makes any sense!

            You wrote:
            “it’s OK if there are extreme splits”

            I respond:
            THERE ARE extreme splits!
            Look at Gonzalez/Pederson/Turner/Puig’s splits. Those are pretty extreme. They can change, and obviously you hope they will, but you have to call an apple (even an extreme one) an apple.

            You wrote:
            or if you are in a small market

            I respond:
            I have no idea what the size of a market means, when the question you are solving is how to best beat the opposing pitcher.

            The Dodgers are a massive market and still have players who can’t hit lefties. Why not start players who can hit lefties, when you face one?

            You wrote:
            Having a set lineup allows players to get comfortable

            I respond:
            So does having a flexible/platoon lineup. Comfort, if I follow your thinking, comes from knowing your role. If the case is to play against RHP or if the case is to play against ALL pitchers. In both cases you should be comfortable knowing what is expected of you.
            You wrote:
            In addition, the starting players are much better than the bench players.

            I respond:
            Not if:
            A. The starting players can’t hit a RHP.
            B. The bench player can hit a RHP
            C. The opposing team is starting a RHP.

            That’s self-evident and irrefutable.

            Also, and quickly, what in holy hell does this line mean to convey:
            Stashing him (McCarthy) on the disabled list gives the club an extra option when he is able to pitch.

            Last time I check, when players are on the DL they are not able to pitch. Shouldn’t the team wait until he is hurt to put him on the DL?

          2. So what would you do? Are you saying you would platoon Justin Turner with Kike Hernandez? You would platoon Joc? Would you platoon Puig or Grandal? Tell me what your ideas are.

          3. Ignore that last line, I figured it out.

            I think you believe McCarthy is currently injured, thus he can start on the DL until ready to contribute.

            I didn’t see he was hurt, but if he is that makes all the sense in the world.

          4. I’d platoon, and not only that. I’d (and this could be totally against the rules) be optioning and recalling players left and right from AAA.

            I would definitely platoon SvS with Gonzalez against Lefties. Barnes instead of Grandal (even though his a switch.) Puig and Pederson I’d give more time to prove themselves against righties and lefties respectively.

  1. Hello Scott. Obviously yes, still early to know all the roster spots for sure. Fully agree on the DFA ends for Kiki and maybe even Gutierrez, as he is not having a good showing , so far. My only concern is the rotation, which IMHO should hopefully include at least 2 RHP and not 4 LHP with only 1 RHP. I would like to see Trayce on roster if healthy. I also believe that at least at the beginning we will be tested again against LHP to see if there is improvement there over last year, which most of Dodger fans feel it cannot get any worse than it was last year against them.

    1. Bluto

      Did you take a look at the platoon teams, offensive numbers, last year?

      There offensive numbers, were last in all of baseball, and it wasn’t even close.

      Maybe that is why Scott isn’t sold on some of the platoons.

  2. I think the Mash unit (McCarthy and Kazmir) will be 4 and 5, with Wood in the pen and Urias still working on his pitching.

    As far as the bench, I don’t think any of them can play CF. So if Toles goes to AAA and Kike goes back home, who will back up Joc?

  3. Just looking at the proposed roster, it sure doesn’t appear to me that this is a “can’t miss the World Series team” to me. It looks kinda piece meal, although I know it is all the Dodgers had to choose .

        1. Yes, I’ve seen those. But none are to the extreme that the Dodgers are by far and away the best team, or a “can’t miss” prospect. Even the rosiest of predictions have the Cubs very close.

  4. Interesting team you put together there Scott. As long as Turner, Pederson and Seager all play 156 games it could work. Has to be on the list of slowest teams in baseball. I think the pitching will be evolving all year long. The depth people keep talking about will be tested, and I suspect the test will begin early.

    I think it could be a good team, but unless we get some very good bounces I don’t see this as a great team. Last year’s team surprised me, though I did beat Timmons on the team O/U wins for the 20th year in a row. I guess that really isn’t worth bragging about is it. And yet I did.

    I think the West will be closer than most think it will be. We win it by 3 or less.

    1. Pederson and Puig both have speed, but as of yet, have not figured out when to use it. Joc stole 30 bases one year at AAA, and we all know Yasiel can run. But the rest of them can be timed with a sundial.

  5. Watching Toles play the outfield the last couple of days is enough for me to send the guy to AAA to play every day. He has misplayed several balls and had trouble finding others. As far as CF goes, I think they are thinking that Gutierrez could play there once in a blue moon. Taylor is actually getting reps in CF. Culberson is my pick for super utility based on the fact he has the most MLB time of all the candidates. Scott. there is presently a roster spot open from when Dejong was traded, so they do not need to open one for Charlie. Although we the fans and you Scott do not like platoons, this FO does, that is why so many of the players are multi-positional. Except for Gonzo and Seager, all the infielders can play other spots on the infield. Corey probably could too. Ethier can play all 3 outfield spots and even has had a game or two at first. SVS can play first, and Puig could play CF in a pinch, he has done it before. Kike still has options, so does Taylor, so they could both be sent to OKC. Fernandez does not have a snowballs chance in hell of making this team which adds him to the dumb signing list. As for starters, well Scott, I do not think there is any way they go with a rotation that has 4 lefty’s. I know it has been done before, but I think they will make every effort to have McCarthy in there. Even if he starts on the DL. Stripling, and Stewart have looked pretty pedestrian, but there is still close to a month of games left. Wood, well he is young and has good stuff which is why I think he is the guy they stick in the pen, not Kazmir. Kazmir will make the starting 5, bank on it. Too much cash owed to the guy, and he is healthy. He looked good for one inning and then got lazy with his mechanics, and he knew it. McCarthy says he feels great. I think his problem is mental. Nice to speculate, but until April 3 we will have no clue who the lucky 25 are. Surprise of camp so far? Holt, Ramos and Spitzbarth…..all have played well

  6. Reading the room, the lineup above looks mostly probable, with some exceptions:

    the rotation would be Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, McCarthy, Kazmir with Urias poised to replace whoever is subject to start on DL.

    Isn’t there some Baez injury news? His OD status in jeopardy?

    Wood seems a good long man option. Jansen, Romo, Dayton, Ravin, Fields and Baez or ???

    Bench: if Puig can manage CF, then no need for Hernandez. How versatile is Barnes? Who’s the 3rd string catcher and is 3 C’s an option? Seems Segedin can really push SVS and Gutierrez is a health risk. Culberson is definitely a gamer and an experienced bench player.

  7. Michael made a good point, there is still another month of spring training, so it is still early, to try to pick a line up right now.

    And we have players, who will be leaving the team today, to play for one of the teams, in the world baseball thing, so it is still early.

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