This article is comparing the 2017 and 2018 post-season rosters. I’m using the 2017 World Series roster to compare to the current (October 9, 2018) playoff roster for 2018. I’ll go through each position and point out strengths, weaknesses, and differences of each area.
|1||Clayton Kershaw||Clayton Kershaw|
|2||Rich Hill||Walker Buehler|
|3||Yu Darvish||Hyun-Jin Ryu|
|4||Alex Wood||Rich Hill|
The 2108 Dodgers have two different names from 2017 and a different rotation other than Clayton Kershaw. Rich Hill was solid in the number 2 spot but Walker Buehler should be a big upgrade. Going through his NLDS problems, then recovering after the disastrous 2ndinning, might be a good thing. For the number 3 spot, Yu Darvish was excellent in the NLDS and NLDS but was a nightmare in the World Series. Hyun-Jin Ryu has been excellent, especially at Dodger Stadium, and should be a better option than Darvish if they advance. Alex Wood was mediocre in the 2017 NLCS but was dynamite in the World Series. For the one start in a playoff series, Rich Hill should be fine.
|Closer||Kenley Jansen||Kenley Jansen|
|8th Inning||Brandon Morrow||Kenta Maeda|
|7th Inning||Kenta Maeda||Pedro Baez|
|Tony Cingrani||Caleb Ferguson|
|Tony Watson||Ryan Madson|
|Ross Stripling||Alex Wood|
|Josh Fields||Scott Alexander|
|Brandon McCarthy||Dylan Floro|
The bullpen is almost completely revamped from 2017. Kenley Jansen returns as the closer but is not the same pitcher in 2017, even though his last appearance in the NLDS was dominant. Jansen is the most important Dodgers player in these playoffs. The biggest difference is that Brandon Morrow was never replaced. It seems the later in the game that Kenta Maeda enters the tougher he has it. Pedro Baez has been very good the last two months. Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani were good in the 2017 post-season but Stripling, McCarthy and Fields were not used much. It seems with Ferguson, Madson, Alexander, Wood, and Floro that there is more depth than 2017 but the late-inning guys are a step-down.
Advantage: a wash between late inning quality and depth
Catcher: Austin Barnes and Yasmani Grandal (2017) vs Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes (2018)
In 2017 Austin Barnes ended up taking over the starting catcher’s job from Yasmani Grandal. Barnes had some success in the NLDS but didn’t hit much in the NLCS or the World Series. Grandal, it was discovered later, was dealing with his wife’s high-risk pregnancy. In 2018 Grandal is back at full strength and seems to be ready to have a decent post-season. I also prefer Grandal calling the game even though there are issues with him catching the ball at the worst of times.
Advantage: 2018 slightly
First Base: Cody Bellinger (2017) vs Max Muncy and David Freese (2018)
In 2017 Bellinger played full time at first base and had some mixed results in the playoffs, including a disappointing World Series. The platoon of Muncy and Freese is outstanding and has produced well in the 2018 playoffs so far. My hope is that they make sure they have Freese available for pinch-hitting against tough lefties in the late innings. Muncy hits both righties and lefties.
Second Base: Logan Forsythe and Chase Utley (2017) vs Kiké Hernandez and Brian Dozier (2018)
Forsythe had an excellent 2017 post-season but it did not continue into 2018 as many of us hoped for. The only game he didn’t start in the World Series was game 2 in which Utley couldn’t get to a groundball that led to the first run for the Astros. I believe Forsythe, Hernandez or Dozier gets to that ball. Hernandez seems to be the full-time starter but Dozier might start against a lefty with Kiké going to the outfield.
Shortstop: Corey Seager and Charlie Culberson (2017) vs Manny Machado (2018)
Seager was not healthy in 2017 so Culberson filled in at times and did well. Culberson also played some other positions and had a hot bat in both the NLCS and World Series. Since Seager was not close to 100% with back and elbow issues he wasn’t as good as expected. His Tommy John surgery led to the trade for Manny Machado. Machado is above average on defense and is a key member of the offense. He’s already had some big hits in the 2018 playoffs and is playing for a big contract along with playing for a title.
Third Base: Justin Turner vs Justin Turner
In the 2017 post-season, Turner was outstanding in the NLDS and NLCS but was pretty beaten up by the World Series and struggled. The injuries he had in 2018 actually has kept him fresher so I expect more from JT in the 2018 post-season.
Advantage: 2018 by a little
Left Field: Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez (2017) vs Joc Pederson and Chris Taylor (2018)
Joc has good career numbers in the post-season, highlighted by 5 home runs. 2017 Hernandez compared to 2018 Taylor are similar. They will continue to platoon Pederson and Taylor and they both play a decent LF. Despite striking out a lot in 2018, Taylor has seen them go down a lot lately.
Center Field: Chris Taylor (2017) vs Cody Bellinger (2018)
Taylor was a solid player in the playoffs last year as he held down CF for most of the post-season. He did help fill in at SS during the NLCS when Seager went down. They both play good enough defense but Bellinger didn’t get a hit in the 2018 NLDS so there is some worry. It could be that Hernandez goes to CF and Dozier plays 2B against lefties.
Right Field: Yasiel Puig (2017) vs Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp (2018)
Puig sits against left-handers in 2018 which brings the defense down quite a bit in RF. Kemp is a nice bat off the bench and can do some damage when he does start. Kemp helped carry the team in the early part of the season and killed the Diamondbacks later in the season. In a clutch situation, I’d rather have Kemp over Puig.
Compared to the Dodgers’ 2017 World Series roster there are 12 different players on the post-season roster this year. There could be some changes coming as the roster can changes series to series. I could see Ross Stripling getting a spot over another relief pitcher. The only changes I expect to see would involve pitching. It seems the position player are locked in. The Dodgers have a slightly better in 2018 than 2017 but the competition has also improved. Every game is going to be a battle and the roster has the depth to deal with many situations that happen in the playoffs. They have a shot at winning it all in 2018.
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