NLDS playoff rosters likely will not be officially announced until next Wednesday or so. While it can be pretty easy to pull out a pen and a pad and jot down 20-ish players guaranteed a roster spot, the final 5 can get a little dicey.
Based on facts, quotes, analysis, and assumption, here is how the 25-man roster is looking for the National League Division Series starting October 3.
|Will Smith||Clayton Kershaw|
|Russell Martin||Walker Buehler|
|Cody Bellinger||Hyun-Jin Ryu|
|David Freese||Kenta Maeda|
|Corey Seager||Adam Kolarek|
|A.J. Pollock||Julio Urias|
|Joc Pederson||Joe Kelly|
|Chris Taylor||Pedro Baez|
|Enrique Hernandez||Kenley Jansen|
Guaranteed Position Player Breakdown
Listed here are 19 players. Noticeably absent are Max Muncy and Justin Turner on the position player side. With Muncy nursing a nagging quad issue, and Turner still dealing with a questionable ankle, calling them “guarantees” wouldn’t be a smart practice.
But feel free to guarantee them.
On the list, most players make sense. Will Smith has caught the bulk of games over the last 2 months, and Russell Martin is getting every game that Smith isn’t starting. Austin Barnes has picked up all of 7 MLB plate appearances since July 24, so barring injury, he’ll be inactive for the month of October.
The rest of the position players fill out the way you would assume. David Freese leads the team in batting average, so he’s a lock. CT3 and Kiké are the utility knives that Dave Roberts won’t leave home without.
Guaranteed Pitcher Breakdown
Pitching wise, much rides on healthy outcomes for Rich Hill over his next two planned outings. If he proves he can go 50 pitches, he’s your likely game 4 opener. Roberts already said Ross Stripling has made the NLDS roster (and Strip has earned it with an ERA of 0.90 over 10 September innings pitched). Kenta Maeda will once again shift to a middle reliever for Dave and company, and Julio Urias will potentially play the Josh Hader role in the backend of the Dodger ‘pen.
Adam Kolarek plays the LOOGY role, and is proving to be one of the better trade deadline acquisitions in all of baseball this season (0.82 ERA in 23 games). Kelly, Baez, and Jansen bridge the final 9 outs (hopefully in no particular order).
|Justin Turner||Rich Hill|
All these guys have been mentioned above. Moreover, all these guys likely find their way onto the NLDS roster, even if not at 100%. This team can ill afford to be without Turner or Muncy, but if both were to be missing, it would border on catastrophic for the boys in blue.
Rich Hill is the biggest wild card. If healthy, one of Tony Gonsolin or Dustin May have a clear cut “bulk guy” role in game 4. Even 40% of Rich Hill is a positive for the Dodger staff. In 47.1 postseason innings with LA, Hill has a 2.66 ERA, and the team is 7-4 in his appearances. At worst, he could sneak onto the roster as a lefty specialist.
The roster sits at 22 players.
More Than Likely
|Gavin Lux||Tony Gonsolin|
|Matt Beaty||Dustin May|
Gavin Lux has started just about every game for the Dodgers since being called up. With Alex Verdugo down and out with a back injury, it’s pretty apparent that Lux has assumed his spot on the roster.
Matt Beaty has been being groomed to be the left-handed compliment to David Freese since May. Beaty is versatile, offers a professional at-bat, and has proven to have some of that Freese clutch gene in him in his rookie campaign. While he’s not good against same handed pitching (4-32; .125 vs LHP), it’s not a role that he’ll necessarily need to concern himself with.
With the two rookie pitchers, simply put, an active Rich Hill leaves only room for one. Gonsolin is the most “stretched out” in terms of pitch count as he regularly started through August and into September. May has had a nice rebound stretch coming out of the bullpen that seemed to ironically trend upward after hitting the ground hard following a comebacker to the head. Since that incident, he hasn’t allowed a run in 5 relief appearances and 7 innings pitched.
Lux and Beaty make the roster 24 deep, and one of the rookie right handers complete the 25 man.
Off Due to Injury
This one is simple. Alex Verdugo has been officially ruled out for the NLDS roster, but realistically — with him not having seen a big league pitch since early August — chances are that he’s shut down for the entirety of the postseason any way.
Rich Hill was nearly added to this list, but his recent plea to be on the active roster likely gives him the inside edge to make it. Even if he’s only thrown 27 big league pitches since June 19.
See You Next Spring
|Jedd Gyorko||Caleb Ferguson|
|Kristopher Negron||Dylan Floro|
|Edwin Rios||Yimi Garcia|
|Austin Barnes||Casey Sadler|
These guys are pretty cut and dry. Gyorko and Negron were both emergency pick ups while Taylor and Hernandez were on the IL. Rios was nearly not recalled this September, and isn’t in the immediate plans for the team. Barnes, as mentioned above, has all of 7 plate appearances since July — he is not being groomed for October play.
On the pitching side, there’s plainly not enough room for these guys. For any one of them to make it, Rich Hill would have to be too injured to throw 45-50 competitive pitches every 4 or 5 days, or one/both of Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin would have to be inactive. Or Joe Kelly’s general soreness would have to be enough to keep him off the roster.
Ferguson was supposed to be a guy relied upon in October, but his season has plainly been too up and down. Floro and Garcia are guys that you can rely on for depth and innings over 162 games, but likely feel uneasy to see pitching with the season on the line. Casey Sadler has realistically earned his way onto the playoff roster but is plainly a victim of a numbers game — there are 25 better guys for the 25 spots.
Josh Sborz shouldn’t even be on the September roster.
There are 6 games and 10 days to finalize this roster. Perhaps not every one of the 25 players earmarked for a roster spot here make it, but I feel pretty confident taking these names to the bank.
Name your postseason players who are an absolute lock for the NLDS
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) September 24, 2019
However, if the front office and the computers see a match up that makes more sense one way or the other, prepare to be surprised. After all, we saw Ryan Madson on each playoff round roster last season and it worked well… until it absolutely did not.