Dodgers have tough decisions for postseason roster

Now that the question of whether the Dodgers are actually going to make the playoffs is answered, it’s time to look ahead to the potential postseason roster.

Players on the roster will obviously depend on health. That’s first and foremost. With some guys recovering and due back soon, Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi, Don Mattingly and Co., are going to have some difficult decision.

In the National League Division Series, as a best-of-five, the team won’t need to carry five starters. Hell, they could probably get away with carrying four. Here are the locks:

Starting pitchers
Zack Greinke
Clayton Kershaw
Brett Anderson

Relief pitchers
Luis Avilan
Pedro Baez
Chris Hatcher
J.P. Howell
Kenley Jansen
Juan Nicasio

Pitcher
Alex Wood

That’s 10 pitchers. Wood is by himself because he could be used as either a starter or reliever, but make no  mistake — he’s a lock for the roster. The Dodgers would probably carry 11 or 12. Let’s go with 11. Who gets the final spot?

Candidates
Mike Bolsinger
Yimi Garcia
Jim Johnson
Joel Peralta

OK, we know of these four the two best options are Bolsinger and Garcia. Since Wood is, in essence, a long reliever option here, I’d go with Garcia. He has better swing-and-miss stuff, which is vital come October. One thing’s for sure: There won’t be any guys who threw just 4 1/3 innings included on the roster to give up eventual game-winning home runs to certain second basemen.

Catchers
A.J. Ellis
Yasmani Grandal

Infielders
Adrian Gonzalez
Howie Kendrick
Jimmy Rollins
Justin Turner

Outfielders
Carl Crawford
Andre Ethier
Joc Pederson
Scott Van Slyke

That’s 10 players. With the pitchers, we’re at 21. This is where it gets interesting. Here are some guys who are absolutely deserving of a spot.

Austin Barnes
Enrique Hernandez
Jose Peraza
Yasiel Puig
Justin Ruggiano
Scott Schebler
Corey Seager
Chase Utley

Seven guys for four spots. If healthy, there’s no question Hernandez will be on the roster. And if the Dodgers are serious about their “speed camp” deal, then Peraza will also make it. Generally, a third catcher isn’t needed, so let’s eliminate Barnes. With Van Slyke’s continued existence, Ruggiano would be redundant. That leaves Puig, Schebler, Seager and Utley for two spots. Utley almost certainly makes it because of Veteran Presents (and the fact he’s been good with the Dodgers). Despite Gabe Kapler‘s obsession (for lack of a better term) over Schebler, he’ll get left off. Now, it comes down to Puig v. Seager.

The fact Puig isn’t an absolute lock is kinda unbelievable — I’m not 100 percent behind it, but I can see a scenario where he’s left off. Puig is the best player of the four, but he also hasn’t been great this season and his hamstring is a concern. He has also struggled a little in the playoffs the last two years (thanks to the Cardinals). If he’s left off the roster, people will flip out and the narrative train will be fired up again. Just because of that, I hope he’s included. But he might not be a better option than Seager at this point.

The Dodgers will likely face the Mets in the first round. The Mets have a lot of high-velocity pitchers (even if they’re young). Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey all have fastballs that average at least 95 MPH. Puig has just seven hits on fastballs of that velocity or higher (six singles, one double) in 28 at-bats. He’s been tinkering with his stance and swing as the season has progressed, so perhaps throwing him into the playoff fray might not be the smartest thing — especially since he hasn’t played since Aug. 27 and doesn’t appear close to returning.

Seager has been awfully impressive in an admittedly small sample. With Hernandez and Peraza on the roster, the need for a backup shortstop isn’t as pressing. But, there isn’t a true backup third baseman on this roster, either. Odds are, Turner won’t need a day off in the playoffs, but you never know.

Keep in mind, these rosters can change after every series. Guys can and will be added and subtracted. But if Puig isn’t on the NLDS roster (again, if healthy he will be), I wouldn’t expect to see him at all in the playoffs. Man, that feels weird to type.

Gun to my head, I’d go with Seager over Puig. I’m not sure how much I like it, but I’m also not sure how much I like the way Puig has been going for most of the season. He’s probably getting instruction, thoughts, opinions, etc., from a number of places, so he might not know what to think/do at this point. Seager has looked like a natural so far. He offers better position flexibility (seeing as the Dodgers would have 5-6 guys other than Puig who could play the outfield) than Puig does. And with Hernandez, Peraza and Van Slyke on the bench, the platoon disadvantage should be neutralized.

“What about Alex Guerrero?” ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ¯_(ツ)_/ ¯¯_(ツ)_/¯

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.