Dodgers’ Opening Day roster could include a couple of surprises

Julio Urias (Photo: Stacie Wheeler)

With Opening Day quickly approaching and roster cuts having been made, let’s take a shot at predicting the 25-man roster.

Dave Roberts doesn’t have a ton of decisions to make, really. With Clayton Kershaw set to begin the season on the injured list, that means Julio Urias will make the team in the bullpen and Ross Stripling will get Kershaw’s rotation spot. Most of the position players are set, but there is one surprising inclusion in the prediction.

The Dodgers still have 36 players in camp. The following have been optioned or reassigned since the last roster update.

That 36 includes Kershaw and Tony Cingrani, who like the future Hall of Famer, will also begin the season the IL. So, we’re at 34. Here are the non-roster players still left in camp:

Of the nine listed here, Miller probably has the best chance of making the roster. Allie has better stuff than Quackenbush, but he lacks the present command/control to be successful at the MLB level. Besides, the bullpen is all but set with 40-man roster guys.

Gonsolin and May will likely be optioned soon, and guys like Carrera, Castro, Orlando and Thole should help provide depth for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Here’s my Opening Day roster prediction.

Roster

Rotation (5)
Walker Buehler
Rich Hill
Kenta Maeda
Hyun-Jin Ryu
Ross Stripling

Bullpen (8)
Scott Alexander
Pedro Baez
Yimi Garcia
Caleb Ferguson
Dylan Floro
Kenley Jansen
Joe Kelly
Julio Urias

Catchers (2)
Austin Barnes
Russell Martin

Infielders (6)
David Freese
Brad Miller
Max Muncy
Corey Seager
Chris Taylor
Justin Turner

Outfielders (4)
Cody Bellinger
Enrique Hernandez
Joc Pederson
A.J. Pollock

The biggest surprise here is no Alex Verdugo. Even though Roberts said last week Verdugo had all but made the roster, Miller’s late-spring emergence and positional versatility might give him the upper hand here. And I’ve long since Verdugo should be freed, but if he isn’t ahead of Pederson on the depth chart, it doesn’t make a ton of sense for him to be the 24th or 25th man on this roster. If he hit right-handed, that might have ensured him a spot. It really comes down to whether the Dodgers are willing to risk losing Miller to an opt-out or whether they want to see if there’s anything there while stashing Verdugo in the minors for a short time. It would suck for Verdugo, but a lot of times, Opening Day rosters come down to a numbers game — the number of options a player has.

Lineups

Vs. LHP
Pollock CF
Seager SS
Turner 3B
Freese 1B
Bellinger RF
Hernandez LF
Taylor 2B
Barnes/Martin C

Vs. RHP
Pollock CF
Seager SS
Turner 3B
Muncy 1B
Bellinger RF
Taylor/Hernandez 2B
Pederson LF
Barnes/Martin C

——

I might be off on the lineups a bit, but the main players are there. They’re the favorites to win their seventh-consecutive NL West title. It’s easy to see why. The team looks solid on paper and will likely improve (if necessary) during the season.

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.