First attempt at predicting the Dodgers’ 2017 NLDS roster

The Dodgers went 4-2 last week and, despite Monday’s loss, that allowed folks to relax and get back to thinking about the postseason. So this is as good a time as any to get discussion started on the roster for the NLDS.

This isn’t necessarily what I’d do, but what I think the Dodgers will do. The Dodgers are, more than likely, going to face the Diamondbacks. If not, it’ll probably be the Rockies.

Locks

Starting Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Rich Hill, Alex Wood

Relief Pitchers: Kenley Jansen, Brandon Morrow, Luis Avilan, Tony Watson

Catchers/Infielders: Austin Barnes, Yasmani Grandal, Cody Bellinger, Logan Forsythe, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Chase Utley

Outfielders: Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor

Those are the 17 absolute, stone-cold locks for the NLDS roster. Hopefully, the Dodgers won’t need a fourth starter for the NLDS, but if they do, Wood is a pretty awesome luxury as a No. 4. Of course, if they’re down 2-1, just know Kershaw will be getting the ball whether we like it or not. The bullpen is where things get a little tricky, and there are a couple holes to fill with position players as well.

For reference, the Dodgers took 11 pitchers and 14 position players for the 2016 NLDS, and it’ll be that split again. In that case, we need three more pitchers and five more position players.

Pitching Candidates

Pedro Baez, Walker Buehler, Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling

That’s a lot of pitchers. Even if Wood’s in the bullpen, I think the Dodgers will take one more long-reliever type. That guy would be Maeda due to his ability to get loose normally, which eliminates Ryu from the NLDS roster because the Dodgers won’t need three multi-inning relievers. Ryu could be in play for the NLCS should the Dodgers make it, though. Dave Roberts loves him some Baez, so he’s a strong candidate for the roster, while Fields and Stripling also appear to have an inside track to NLDS bullpen spots.

Buehler is tempting, but his situation isn’t like Julio Urias‘ last year. I don’t think he makes the cut. Cingrani has been great with the Dodgers, but he has a track record of not being great and I’m not sure the Dodgers want to chance it. Stewart has delivered mixed results, which is enough to keep him off the roster. McCarthy is coming back this week, but I’m not sure there’s enough time for him to earn a spot.

The Baez-Fields-Stripling conundrum comes down to dingers. All three of them are home-run prone out of the bullpen:

HR/FB%, HR/9
Baez: 12.2%, 1.37
Fields: 14.7%, 1.70
Stripling: 15.1%, 1.07

Gross. Stripling has the best overall numbers of this trio and despite his home-run struggles, I think he gets a spot. Baez vs. Fields is such a tough one to call. Baez has been bad of late and not great on the season. Fields has better strikeout numbers and his June (14.63 FIP, 5 HR, 5 2/3 IP) has inflated his numbers in some regards. As much as Roberts likes Baez (publicly), his poor performance keeps him off the roster in favor of Fields.

Final Three In: Fields, Maeda, Stripling

Position Player Candidates

Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Kyle Farmer, Enrique Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Rob Segedin, Alex Verdugo

Oof. Roberts is on record saying Hernandez will be the Dodgers’ primary left fielder against left-handed pitching, so he’ll get in. Last year, the Dodgers carried three catchers in the NLDS, so let’s assume Farmer gets in as well. We still need a starting left fielder against right-handers, and there are really only three candidates: Ethier, Granderson or Pederson. I don’t see Segedin or Verdugo making it, and I also don’t see Gonzalez making it because he hasn’t looked good since his first week or so back (and even then, he wasn’t great).

So, let’s look at this left field situation for a moment. Granderson was brought in because Pederson had been struggling. The front office knew Granderson wasn’t the player he was 5-6 years ago, but it also didn’t see Granderson posting a 52 wRC+ in 97 plate appearances. Ethier has a 120 wRC+, but in just 21 plate appearances. Pederson has just a 10 (!) wRC+ since coming back from Triple-A (16 PA), so he hasn’t exactly separated himself either. Man, if only Trayce Thompson were healthy and effective.

Honestly, this has been a little for naught because I think all three of them make the initial postseason roster. I’m guessing the starter against right-handers comes down to Ethier or Granderson.

Final Five In: Ethier, Farmer, Granderson, Hernandez, Pederson

Lineups

Lineup Vs. RHP

Taylor CF
Seager SS
Turner 3B
Bellinger 1B
Puig RF
Granderson LF
Barnes C
Utley 2B

Lineup Vs. LHP

Taylor CF
Seager SS
Turner 3B
Bellinger 1B
Forsythe 2B
Barnes C
Puig RF
Hernandez LF

Not bad, all things considered.

Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the lineups is Barnes being the primary catcher, making Grandal a bench piece for the postseason. Andy McCullough believes this to be the case, and it wouldn’t be surprising.

2017 NLDS Postseason Roster prediction, Version 1.0

Pitchers

Player Position
Clayton Kershaw SP 1
Yu Darvish SP 2
Rich Hill SP 3
Alex Wood SP 4
Kenley Jansen RHRP
Brandon Morrow RHRP
Ross Stripling RHRP
Josh Fields RHRP
Luis Avilan LHRP
Tony Watson LHRP
Kenta Maeda SWNG

Position Players

Player Position
Austin Barnes C/2B
Yasmani Grandal C
Kyle Farmer C/3B
Cody Bellinger 1B/OF
Logan Forsythe 2B
Justin Turner 3B
Corey Seager SS
Chase Utley IF
Curtis Granderson LF
Chris Taylor CF
Yasiel Puig RF
Andre Ethier OF
Enrique Hernandez OF
Joc Pederson OF

Naturally, this is all subject to change as the rest of the season unfolds (and it probably will at least one more time). We’re now 17 days away from Game 1 of the NLDS, and it can’t get here soon enough.

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 does contracts and depth charts for FanGraphs and 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 one-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, California, and has yet to be shot.