Here’s Your NLDS Roster, and Why Joel Peralta Is On It

After plenty of speculation, the official NLDS roster is out. Enjoy:

Hitters (14)

  1. C/1B Yasmani Grandal
  2. C A.J. Ellis
  3. 1B Adrian Gonzalez
  4. 2B Howie Kendrick
  5. 2B/UT Chase Utley
  6. SS/3B Corey Seager
  7. SS Jimmy Rollins
  8. 3B/UT Justin Turner
  9. LF Carl Crawford
  10. LF/RF Andre Ethier
  11. CF Joc Pederson
  12. CF/UT Enrique Hernandez
  13. RF Yasiel Puig
  14. OF Justin Ruggiano

Hey, Seager was eligible despite not being called up until early September!

and…

Pitchers (11)

  1. SP Clayton Kershaw (L)
  2. SP Zack Greinke
  3. SP Brett Anderson (L)
  4. SP/RP Alex Wood (L)
  5. CL Kenley Jansen
  6. RP J.P. Howell (L)
  7. RP Luis Avilan (L)
  8. RP Yimi Garcia
  9. RP Chris Hatcher
  10. RP Pedro Baez
  11. RP Joel Peralta

As compared to my last guess nearly two weeks ago on Sept. 28, there’s three main differences:

  • Peralta makes it, Juan Nicasio does not
  • Puig makes it, Carlos Frias does not, as Puig’s health improved considerably from when we last looked at this, and the team chose to take 11 pitchers rather than 12
  • Ruggiano makes it, Scott Van Slyke does not, at least in part due to Van Slyke’s wrist injury

Ruggiano seems stoked, as he should:

Knowing what we now know about Puig and Van Slyke, 24 of those spots make perfect sense. But of course, it’s the last one that’s going to draw the most attention: Peralta, really? And I get that. It was my reaction too.

You’re immediately going to look at Peralta’s 4.34 ERA/5.00 FIP as compared to Nicasio’s 3.86 ERA/2.83 FIP, and remember how brutal he was over the summer — remember that trip through Philadelphia & Pittsburgh where he allowed three homers, seven hits, and five earned runs to 17 batters in 3.1 innings — and wonder what exactly is going on.

Peralta immediately went on the DL after that with a neck sprain that seemed as much a way to spare him and the team further embarrassment than anything, and looked like it very well might end his Dodger career (and perhaps, at 39, his baseball career).

Now he’s on the playoff roster, and I’m not trying to defend the choice so much as understand it — and there’s at least reason to do that. As much as you may not have liked him this year, it’s clear he wasn’t healthy when he was struggling. Hell, he said as much:

“It started in Philly a little bit, I was feeling it,” Peralta said. “We tried to fight through it and see if it gets better, because my arm didn’t lose the strength.”

Peralta said the injury is affecting his command, and while he’s not feeling any pain or soreness in his right arm, he had been having trouble finishing his pitches. In his last four appearances, starting with the series opener in Philadelphia on Aug. 4, Peralta has allowed five runs and three homers in 3 1/3 innings.

“When he starts talking about not being able to finish a pitch, that’s when you get in trouble with guys,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “I think we’re seeing a little bit of that with his breaking ball.”

I think we all know by now how pitching through pain works out for most guys, and it was clear that Peralta was simply not right. He quietly returned from the DL on Sept. 3, and in nine innings, had an 11/0 K/BB with two solo homers. You can see what else changed:

Now, I still like Nicasio better as a pitcher, but it’s become difficult to ignore his command struggles. In 21.1 second-half innings, he’s walked 13 and allowed 11 runs. Since Sept. 1, he’s walked five in eight and allowed runs. It’s not terribly difficult to make the case that right now, Peralta is more effective than Nicasio, and that’s apparently what the team has done.

I suppose it comes down to this: If Peralta gives up runs in the playoffs, we’ll all freak out. But can we realistically point to Nicasio and say “if it had been him, this wouldn’t have happened?” I don’t think so. I think, however, I can speak for us all when I say that I would be very pleased if neither one of them were put in for a high-leverage situation in a big playoff spot.

Anyway: Finally, there’s playoff baseball tonight. These are your 25 men. IT’S ALL HAPPENING.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.