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Dodgers: Comparing 2017 and 2018 Post-Season Rosters



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.

Starting Rotation

2017 2018
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.

Advantage: 2018

Bullpen

2017 2018
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

Muncy has mastered the bat-drop because the guy can hit like no one else in a Dodgers uniform. Here’s a shot right before a bat-drop.

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.

Advantage: 2018

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.

Advantage: 2018

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.

Advantage: 2018

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

Oct 31, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson celebrates after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros in the 7th inning in game six of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Advantage: wash

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.

Advantage: 2017

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.

Advantage: 2017

Conclusions

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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Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

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  1. We should be fine, my only and always concern is Kershaw. He always seems to melt in the playoffs, and Kenley Jensen makes me nervous, but it has to be our year. I’m very exited about Walker Buehler, he reminds me of Hershiser

  2. If the Dodgers play clean baseball they should handle the Brewers over seven games. Having watched them play every game this season and postseason, clean games have been non-existent. As Smoltz said during game 4 of NLDS, the Dodgers have superior talent so it all comes down to how they execute. Go Dodgers!

  3. I still can’t understand why the Dodgers left out Julio Urias? He looked dominant. They surprised me even more by including Alex Wood ti the playoff roster. Are they nuts. He is terrible.

    • We all like Urias, but I dont think he wad able to pitch enough before the season ended to warrant putting him on the post season roster instead of someone else. At this point in his comeback he needs to much time in between appearances to be on the roster.
      But look for him to compete in spring training against Strip and Wood for a starting spot. But they might still want to limit his innings next year so with an abundance of starting pitchers he still might spend time in the minors “resting”.

      • Daniel I agree this team is better in many aspects starting pitching should be much improved as is 2nd base and SS is a push. But the Bullpen is the real worry. Jansen is not even close to his previous performance. Watch him continue to wildly miss Grandal’s mitt. Many times he is missing by a foot or better. That is very disturbing in a game of inches. If we do not win I believe it will be Jansen and needing to cover for him that will lose it. I believe we should get to the WS but you always need a little luck and we have not had it.
        As you mentioned next year’s starting rotation. I believe the Dodgers should sign Ryu and if he opts out let Kershaw go. His loss of velocity and time on the DL for numerous issues does not get him a long term mega contract. Also next year rotation I hope will be Kershaw, Ryu, Buehler, Urias and either Maeda, Wood, Hill, Stripling or Ferguson. I would trade Wood. That team with the talent we have on the Field wins over 100 games.

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