Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced his NLDS roster and caught quite a few people by surprise. He was forced to make tough choices on whether or not to leave key players off of the roster for others. His final 25 men gave us some insight on things that no longer need to be questioned.
Joc Pederson will start every game in CF
With Kiké Hernandez being left off of the the playoff roster, the Dodgers have no right-handed hitting backup option in center field. Of course, we know Puig is capable enough to play all three outfield positions, but he is sure to feature in right field in place of Reddick when the Dodgers face a left-handed pitcher. Dodger rumors are that Toles can also play center field, but as he is left handed, he would not be replacing Joc against any lefties.
Pederson has not received many at bats against lefties this season. Hernandez was the primary starter in center field when the Dodgers faced off against a southpaw. It became more clear towards the end of the season that Pederson would get every start in the playoffs. Roberts gave him increasingly more starts against lefties. Earlier in the season, Joc could consider any game against a lefty an off day.
Pederson posted a rough .125 AVG in 2016 against LHP. The sample size was quite small though, with only 77 plate appearances. In those 77 plate appearances, he walked 11 times, while striking out 22 times. In a game against the Padres right before the seasons end he showed promise with two doubles off of a LHP.
A few appearances just was not enough for Wood
After a very disappointing April in the Dodgers rotation, Wood really stepped up with a 3.18 ERA in May. He was struck by the Dodgers injury bug and went down with a forearm issue for a little over three months.
Wood was able to return in the heart of September to audition for one of the final roster spots. Roberts announced before Wood came back that he would strictly be a bullpen piece for the rest of the season. With Liberatore, Dayton, Howell, and Avilan all out in the bullpen, it was always going to be a steep task for him.
Wood dominated in his four September innings. He allowed just two batters to reach. One by hit, and one by walk. He looked like he was ready to be called upon for the playoffs but with such a small sample size, Roberts made the decision that he was not needed over Avilan and Dayton in the bullpen.
Urias is already one of the best the Dodgers have to offer
Julio Urias just turned 20 years old. He was supposed to be a September call up, but due to injuries, the then 19-year-old was called upon to help way earlier than imagined. He has been on a pitch limit all season, but has stuck in the majors almost the entire year. After being roughed up in his first few outings, he ended the second half of the season with an ERA under two.
With a 1.99 ERA in August, and a 1.93 ERA in September, Urias has been arguably the best starting pitcher for the Dodgers in the second half. Although he has shattered his innings limit, Roberts has said that if needed, he will be the NLDS game four starter.
Kike’s inability to hit LHP costs him roster spot
From beginning to end, 2016 was a rough year for Enrique Hernandez. He is known for mashing left handers and playing decent defense all across the diamond. After such a great 2015, it was a surprise that Kiké struggled so much and so early on in the season. He, along with so many others, spent time on the disabled list due to battling an injury, but even when he returned, he could never regain last years form.
After getting the bulk of the center field starts against lefties in July and August, as September rolled through, Roberts began starting Pederson instead. Kiké was definitely given his chances but just could not get his bat going, resulting in a batting average below the Mendoza Line. A combination of Andrew Toles, Charlie Culberson, and Austin Barnes took the last three vital spots on the playoff roster from Kiké.
Barnes’ versatility earns him final roster spot on the team
Austin Barnes started the season in Los Angeles while Grandal was injured. Once he was sent back down to Triple-A, he was down there almost the entire season until he was called back up in September. Barnes has always primarily been a catcher, but he provides a ton of versatility and a good bat.
Barnes was probably the most shocking choice of the playoff roster, due to the fact that Roberts rarely chose to play him. With Ruiz and Grandal on the roster, it makes almost no sense to take him, right? What a lot of people do not know is exactly how versatile Barnes really is. He played multiple positions for the Oklahoma City Dodgers.
He played in 63 games behind the dish, 15 games at second base, and 9 games as a third baseman. So while a lot of people were confused as to why he made the roster, it actually makes a lot of sense, especially after the decision to leave Kiké off of the roster. As the Dodgers look to make a deep run this postseason with their current roster, check back for more Dodgers News!