The 2016 regular season opens on Monday for the Dodgers in San Diego. The Dodgers have to set their roster by Sunday and they have some tough roster decisions looming. The club has just three exhibition games remaining against the Angels before the real games start.
The Dodgers have had a lousy spring training. Well it hasn’t been that bad. Most of the guys are starting to get healthy. The club has been besieged by injuries all over their roster. The Dodgers might be forced to start the regular season without their starting left fielder, shortstop, backup shortstop, second baseman, catcher, fifth starter, and one of their middle relievers.
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Starting catcher Yasmani Grandal’s forearm seems to be on the mend as well. He’ll apparently play in some minor league games this weekend and join the club in Anaheim for the final game of the Freeway Series. He’ll probably be able to open the season for the Dodgers behind the plate.
The outlook is not so good for second baseman Howie Kendrick, and Alex Guerrero. Kendrick is still battling a sore calf muscle and will reportedly stay behind in Arizona to continue his rehab. He’s behind and hasn’t had enough at-bats or time to heal properly. He’s likely to open the season on the disabled list.
As will Guerrero, who has a sore knee. He’ll stay behind in Glendale as well. Guerrero’s timeline is actually good news for the Dodgers, because it buys them some time to figure out what to do with him. Guerrero doesn’t have a set position on the roster, and is considered a weak defender. I was thinking the Dodgers would probably do the old Joe Torre/Don Mattingly phantom injury roster machination to keep from having to release him. Well, they don’t to because Guerrero has an honest to goodness actual injury by golly.
So with Kendrick and Guerrero down, you would think the starting second baseman position would go to backup extraordinaire and banana man Kike Hernandez. However Hernandez is hurt himself. He’s been battling a hip injury. Veteran Chase Utley could get the nod, and another roster spot could open up for guys like Charlie Culberson, (who is a terrific defensive player but can’t hit a lick), or Rob Segedin. Both players have had impressive springs. Segedin especially, who looks to be an all-around solid player.
Hernandez is reportedly getting better and should be ready to go by Monday. My guess is Utley and Hernandez will share the time at second base until Kendrick returns in a couple of weeks. Ironic since that what was supposed to happen when we thought the Dodgers weren’t going to resign Kendrick. Culberson and Segedin will likely be cut after the Freeway series. Although I have a feeling one of those guys will make the roster. Austin Barnes is also a possibility.
As for the pitching staff, well there aren’t a lot of options for the fifth starter. The top four seem to be set in stone. Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, and Alex Wood will take the mound in the 1-4 positions. I have been particularly unimpressed with Wood this spring. I’ll give him a chance before I start ripping him a new one over here. However he’s looked bad this year and it’s going to take a lot for him to avoid my wrath on this blog if he continues to suck in the regular season as much as he did in the exhibition season.
The fifth starter spot will likely go to Carlos Frias. Unfortunately Mike Bolsinger is not going to be ready, and the kids were all sent down to continue their development. There’s nobody else, unless you want to see Ian Thomas, and let’s be honest here, nobody does. Or you want to watch Brandon Beachy‘s arm melt. No thanks. Frias is the best option here.
The bullpen will be primarily set. As long as Yimi Garcia’s knee feels good. Chris Hatcher will help Garcia to provide set-up duties for closer Kenley Jansen. J.P. Howell and Luis Avilan will be the lefties after Adam Liberatore got optioned the other day.
Here’s my opening day roster:
Clayton Kershaw LHP
Scott Kazmir LHP
Kenta Maeda RHP
Alex Wood LHP
Carlos Frias RHP
Kenley Jansen CL
Chris Hatcher RHP
Yimi Garcia RHP
Luis Avilan LHP
Pedro Baez RHP
J.P. Howell LHP
Joe Blanton RHP
Yasiel Puig RF
Corey Seager SS
Yasmani Grandal C
Joc Pederson CF
A.J. Ellis C-R
Scott Van Slyke OF-R
Chase Utley IF-L
Charlie Culberson IF/OF-R
I’ll guess that Culberson and Thompson both make the roster. The Dodgers will need a fifth outfielder, and another guy who can cover shortstop. Culberson has had a great spring. This will be a tough decision between Culberson and Segedin. However Culberson is such a great fielder, it would be hard for the Dodgers to say no. Even though Culberson isn’t much of a hitter, I can live with it for a couple of weeks. Culberson is not on the 40-man roster, so that would require a move to clear space. That’s easy enough to do. You just say goodbye someone like a Ralston Cash, or Jeremy Kehrt. There are quite a few guys wasting space.
The clock is ticking for the Dodgers and the season begins on Monday.