Predicting Dodgers’ 2018 NLDS roster against Atlanta

Pedro Baez. Photo: Stacie Wheeler

My first attempt at predicting the Dodgers’ National League Division Series roster 12 days ago was before they actually locked up a playoff spot. Now that they’ve won the NL West for a sixth consecutive season, let’s try to hammer out the 25-man roster the Dodgers will put up against the Braves.

As usual, we start with the locks.

Starting Pitchers

Walker Buehler
Rich Hill

Clayton Kershaw
Hyun-Jin Ryu

Relief Pitchers

Scott Alexander
Caleb Ferguson
Dylan Floro
Kenley Jansen
Kenta Maeda

Catchers/Infielders

Austin Barnes
Cody Bellinger
David Freese
Yasmani Grandal
Manny Machado
Max Muncy
Chris Taylor
Justin Turner

Outfielders

Enrique Hernandez
Matt Kemp
Joc Pederson
Yasiel Puig

We’re up to 21 (from 20 in the first prediction), with the only difference here from the first prediction is the inclusion of Hill. He’ll be the No. 4 starter in any playoff series — even a 5-gamer.

All the other inclusions are pretty self-explanatory and obvious. And like last time, let’s rule out the guys who have no chance of making it.

John Axford
JT Chargois

Rocky Gale
Yimi Garcia
Julio Urias
Chase Utley
Pat Venditte

The only guy here who could be in contention for a spot is Urias — or so it would seem. I wrote about his playoff roster chances last week at True Blue LA. Here’s an excerpt:

“Urías’ outing on Sunday came after seven days of rest. Prior to his first MLB outing this season, he had 12 days of rest. Here are the days of rest in between starts in his 10 minor-league outings this season: 3, 5, 4, 5, 5, 3, 2, 2, 2. That’s an average of 3.4 days of rest between outings. If the Dodgers make the postseason, their likely schedule is as follows: Thursday-Friday-Sunday-Monday-Wednesday. Assuming the Dodgers begin the postseason on Oct. 4, that will be four days since the end of the season. With the entirety of the series being played in the span of six days, that would mean Urías would be good for maybe two outings, and that would mean throwing in Games 1 and 5. That is, if the Dodgers would still adhere to the extended rest period for him.”

Include the fact that he pitched in three MLB games this season in which the Dodgers were leading by 13, 14 and 15 runs, and it’s pretty clear the Dodgers don’t have any high-leverage work planned for him in 2018. And that’s OK.

So, it’s down to 12 guys for four remaining spots — three pitchers and one position player.

Pitchers

Pedro Baez
Tony Cingrani
Josh Fields
Ryan Madson
Zac Rosscup
Ross Stripling
Alex Wood

Position Players

Brian Dozier
Kyle Farmer
Tim Locastro
Andrew Toles
Alex Verdugo

Baez has worked his way into the near-lock category with a strong second half. He has earned Dave Roberts‘ trust. Wood saw some high-leverage work, so he’s likely in as well. Cingrani and Fields are probably out. It’s too bad about Cingrani because he’s probably the 2nd-best reliever the Dodgers have, if everyone is healthy. Rosscup would be on as a true LOOGY, but is that more important than having a better pitcher like Stripling and/or Madson? That remains to be seen. If it’s up to me, I’d go with Stripling ahead of Madson and Rosscup.

As far as position players goes, this one seems to be more of a luxury and a “take the best guy who fills the biggest need.” Farmer, Locastro and Toles are probably out, so it’s down to Dozier and Verdugo. Verdugo is probably the better hitter at present, but Dozier has more power and hits right-handed. That gives him the slight edge over the Verdugo … also the fact Dozier got 23 more plate appearances (despite hitting .087 for the month) gives him the slight edge in this prediction.

Final Four Spots: Baez, Stripling, Wood, Dozier

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I’m sure there will be something I’ve gotten wrong here (seems to happen a lot these days). Maybe Urias bucks all logic and gets the nod. Maybe the wily veteran Madson gets in ahead of a maybe-tired Stripling. We’ll see.

One thing’s for sure: This roster is star-studded and full of talent. As was the plan when Andrew Friedman and Co. took over.

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.