After a long and trying season full of ups and downs, the Dodgers have finally clinched their division. It took every bit of their 162 games season and then some, but their victory in game 163 paved the way for playoff glory. And now comes the difficult task of trimming the roster down to 25 players.
There are a few names that will inevitably be left off of the list that may cause a stir. The biggest name that I believe will be left off of the roster is Chase Utley. It pains me to think about, but I cannot seem to justify a spot for him. Utley has not earned a hit since July 30th and spent a good amount of time on the disabled list for a wrist injury. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him added on as a member of the coaching staff at the end of the season so that he could be in the dugout come playoff time.
There is also the question of Julio Urias. The kid came back from his injury and has absolutely dominated in his limited appearances. He has tossed four scoreless innings in his three games and allowed just one hit. He has also struck out seven without a walk and showed a huge improvement in velocity. The issue is that he simply does not have enough innings under him to warrant a playoff spot. With only three games pitched since he went down with a shoulder injury last April, Julio will have to work towards getting ready for next year.
With that being said, here is how I imagine Dave Roberts building his playoff roster.
Catchers(2)- Austin Barnes, Yasmani Grandal
Infield(7)– Cody Bellinger, Brian Dozier, David Freese, Manny Machado, Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, Justin Turner
Outfield(4)– Enrique Hernandez, Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig
Starters(4)– Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-jin Ryu, Ross Stripling
Bullpen(8)– Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez, Caleb Ferguson, Dylan Floro, Rich Hill, Kenley Jansen, Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood
Taxi Squad- Josh Fields, Yimi Garcia, Zac Rosscup, Pat Venditte, Kyle Farmer, Alex Verdugo, Andrew Toles
For the most part, this is the safe bet for Roberts. Leaving Utley out of the roster is sad, but I am sure most fans understand why it will need to be done. Not everyone really wants Austin Barnes backing up Grandal, but Farmer is not a true catcher. Not to mention the fact that Barnes has hit three homeruns this month after hitting just one way back in May.
Pedro Baez is another name that makes people cringe when they think of high-leverage situations, but he’s been solid. He has allowed just one earned run since August 13th and held his own. He will be used as long as he is effective in the playoff bullpen.
The only real question comes with the starting rotation. It remains unclear if the team will go with Stripling or Hill as the fourth starter. Perhaps they will base it off of matchup, in which case, Rich Hill will get the nod. Hill has had much better success than Stripling in 2018. Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger Amongst Top 20 In MLB Jersey Sales