At some point tomorrow, likely moments after Brim puts up what will surely be a well-researched and thought-provoking post on Dee Gordon, the Dodgers will announce their 25-man roster for the NLDS. (Although who knows, the Cardinals took the unusual step of doing so today, perhaps because they had to travel and omissions would have been more noticeable. Old friend Mark Ellis is not on the team.) I made my first prediction on this nine days ago, before we even knew who they’d be facing, so let’s give it a refresh based on what we now know.
I think we can agree that 23 of those names are pretty much locks, right?
C: A.J. Ellis, Drew Butera
IF: Adrian Gonzalez, Gordon, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Justin Turner, Miguel Rojas
OF: Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke
SP: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu, Dan Haren
RP: Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Brian Wilson, Brandon League, Pedro Baez, Jamey Wright
I have a very hard time seeing a roster that doesn’t include those 13 hitters and 10 pitchers. We also now know that Alex Guerrero, Roger Bernadina, Daniel Coulombe, Erisbel Arruebarrena, and Yimi Garcia will all not be included. None were on my roster, anyway, and Arruebarrena’s absence only strengthens the certainty that Rojas makes it, despite his total lack of a bat.
That narrows things down a bit. There’s two remaining spots, and in my original version, I had Chris Perez and Paco Rodriguez taking them. That could still happen, but I’m no longer quite so sure. We can say this, at least: One of those two spots goes to an 11th pitcher, certainly. I had Rodriguez on my first roster, and I can’t see the team going with Howell, who had some rough moments in the last two weeks, as the only lefty. I’ll stick with Rodriguez.
So the last spot, then comes down to Perez, Scott Elbert, Joc Pederson, Roberto Hernandez, Carlos Frias and Darwin Barney. I originally had Perez not because I think he’s any good, but because he’s a veteran guy who ended the season with seven consecutive scoreless appearances. But he also didn’t pitch after Sept. 21, claiming he didn’t know why, despite being healthy, and there’s certain conspiracy theories that suggest the team wanted to avoid the $500,000 bonus he’d get with one more appearance. Since I only included him because I thought the team would, I feel a little safer in changing my mind on that one spot.
The news has been good on Ryu, so that probably negates the need for Hernandez. Pederson still seems like a long shot. Elbert remains a possibility, and I think I prefer the team having 12 pitchers, considering what a mess the bullpen has been. He’s also only struck out two of the 18 hitters he’s faced; not that I really want to judge the guy after such a long layoff, but these are the playoffs.
Then there’s Barney, who was totally buried for most of his time with the Dodgers before getting some appearances after the division was racked up. He remains a stellar defender, but what truly worries me is that people see his .303/.467/.424 line in 45 plate appearances with the Dodgers and think he actually adds some offense, despite many years of truly awful performances with the Cubs saying otherwise. Still, I wonder if that’s enough to sway things his way. I can’t argue that the idea of a Gonzalez / Barney / Rojas / Uribe in the late innings, with a lead, sounds like a pretty stellar defensive crew — and maybe that’s the most important thing you can do to help a troubling bullpen.
I’ll say, tentatively, that Barney makes it over Elbert. We’ll know within the next 24 hours.