Dodgers’ roster could see a couple significant changes for the World Series

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

The Dodgers won the pennant. They’ll face off with the Astros in the World Series starting Tuesday. Until then, how about another roster prediction?

In my last prediction, I didn’t expect there to be many changes. I had 13 position players and 12 pitchers on the roster. Then, Corey Seager was left off the National League Championship Series roster due to an injured back. Enter Charlie Culberson, who far exceeded expectations offensively — 5-for-11, 1.235 OPS — and played strong defense in Seager’s absence. It was the ultimate “next man up” scenario, which seems to be the norm for the Dodgers this season. The Dodgers ended up taking 14 position players and 11 pitches — something that, in all likelihood, won’t be repeated for the World Series.

With Curtis Granderson and Chase Utley showing their age in the NLCS, it’s a legitimate question whether either makes the World Series roster. Granderson was brought in to be a stabilizing force in left field, but he has been anything but that. Utley is 0-for-24 in his last 24 postseason plate appearances and just 4-for-40 in the playoffs with the Dodgers. There’s an argument to be made that both should be left off the roster, but we also know that won’t happen. However, replacing Granderson with Seager while keeping Culberson makes a ton of sense. The Dodgers would also need to find a place for Joc Pederson, who could be the left-handed platoon player in left field, even if Enrique Hernandez may have hit his way into a start or two against right-handed pitchers. With Culberson, leaving Utley off the roster would make it easier, but I suspect Kyle Farmer will be the one to get the boot in favor of Pederson.

The pitching side could be interesting. I thought Luis Avilan would be back for the NLCS, but he wasn’t. Pedro Baez was left off the roster in favor of another bat. Ross Stripling struggled a bit in Game 3 before bouncing back strong in Game 4, so his spot might still be safe. But his best pitch is the curveball, and the Astros as the second-best team against curveballs, so he might be vulnerable. Brandon McCarthy might be in line for the long relief role, but his stuff is similar to Stripling’s. He also hasn’t pitched in a long time, so it’d be a pretty gutsy move to exclude Stripling in favor of McCarthy. But if there’s an open spot, it has to be between Avilan and McCarthy. I’d opt for Avilan because he’s more adept at pitching out of the bullpen and the Astros handle both lefties and righties almost equally well (120 wRC+ vs. LHP, 122 vs. RHP).

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Official prediction time!

Pitchers (12)

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

Position Players (13)

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

Rosters are due Tuesday morning. First pitch of the World Series is in 57 hours. This is actually happening.

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., and has yet to be shot.