Here’s the second (and probably final) prediction for the Dodgers’ NLDS roster against Arizona, Colorado, Milwaukee or St. Louis. The Diamondbacks are the scariest team, but I don’t think the Dodgers are afraid of any of their potential playoff opponents.
There have been a couple of changes, as you’ll see below. But first, let’s take into account matchups and numbers. It breaks down like this:
wRC+ vs. RHP
St. Louis, 101
wRC+ vs. LHP
St. Louis, 104
wOBA vs. RHP
St. Louis, .327
wOBA vs. LHP
St. Louis, .330
No world beaters, but we all know the Diamondbacks have a potent lineup with Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez. However, they’ve also struggled a lot against southpaws. The Cardinals are solid against both-handed pitching, while the Rockies have had mixed results against lefties. The Brewers are, easily, the 4th-best offensive team the Dodgers could potentially face in the first round.
With the Dodgers’ ability to throw three left-handed starters and have 3-4 left-handers out of the bullpen, combined with the likely opponent being the Diamondbacks, they very well might end up taking six left-handed pitchers.
My first prediction was generally fine. There hasn’t been much that has changed because, well, most of the decisions aren’t that difficult.
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: Curtis Granderson, Enrique Hernandez, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor
No previous “locks” have been “unlocked.” I added Granderson and Hernandez, because Granderson is clearly going to be the starting left fielder against right-handed pitching and Hernandez is clearly going to be the starting left fielder against left-handed pitching. That makes 19 of 25 spots filled.
Walker Buehler, Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling
Still think Maeda gets in, as his stuff is more likely to play better out of the bullpen than Ryu and/or McCarthy’s. Also, Ryu’s injured forearm almost takes him out of the running for the Division Series. Stewart has three innings of work since Sept. 15, so it’s safe to say he’s out. Buehler and Cingrani are making late pushes after Pedro Baez (who isn’t even mentioned above) and Stripling have struggled recently.
Fields still gets one of the spots because he has short-relief experience and good stuff. His home run numbers are inflated mostly due to a poor June. Cingrani has pitched well enough of late that I think he has earned a spot on the NLDS roster. So, this comes down to Buehler vs. Stripling.
Buehler’s stuff is about as good as it gets, but putting him into an unfamiliar role like short relief in the postseason isn’t the best idea. On track record, Stripling has the edge, but his long ball struggles have given me pause. With 12 pitchers, though, the Dodgers could bet on the potential Buehler has over the steadiness Stripling provides. Even if Buehler throws a third of an inning, an inning or two innings, his strikeout stuff is undeniable. In a short series, the need for multiple multi-inning relievers is less necessary. Also, Watson’s success against righties (.256 wOBA against RHH w/ LA) makes it easier to leave Stripling off and take a flyer on Buehler for the NLDS.
Final Four In: Buehler, Cingrani, Fields, Maeda
Position Player Candidates
Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, Kyle Farmer, Joc Pederson
Granderson and Hernandez are out because I moved them up. I also removed Rob Segedin and Alex Verdugo, as they have almost no shot. They’d have zero shot if they hit left-handed. That means it comes down to Ethier, Farmer, Gonzalez and Pederson for two spots. Ethier seems to have played his way into a postseason role, so he’s in. Now it comes down to whether you want the grizzled veteran in Gonzalez, the young center fielder with power in Pederson or the untested third catcher that would free up Barnes to be used more liberally. Knowing this front office, it’s going to err on the side of flexibility and utility, which gives Farmer the overall edge. Gonzalez and Pederson are too similar (left-handed hitters, easily neutralized by LHP — which both the D’backs and Rockies have plenty of) to take over a guy like Ethier or a guy like Farmer, who gives the team more versatility.
Final Two In: Ethier, Farmer
Lineup vs. RHP
Lineup vs. LHP
Grandal appears to have reclaimed the starting job against righties (not that he ever really lost it). That still gives Barnes starts against lefties and the chance to use him as a pinch-hitter (9-for-31) and/or at second base. The rest of the lineups are pretty standard.
2017 NLDS Postseason Roster Prediction, V 2.0
|Clayton Kershaw||SP 1|
|Yu Darvish||SP 2|
|Rich Hill||SP 3|
|Alex Wood||SP 4|
Position Players (13)
If the Dodgers decide on 14 position players and 11 pitchers, I could see Buehler getting the boot and either Pederson or Gonzalez taking his spot. You could literally flip a coin to make this decision. Memories of Gonzalez’s clutch hit off Aroldis Chapman in Game 1 of the 2016 NLCS come to mind. Memories of Pederson’s home run off Max Scherzer in Game 5 of the NLDS come to mind. Both have a legitimate claim to that spot (should it become available), but I think it comes down to versatility and health. I’d probably opt for Pederson because he’s actually the healthier of the two.
The last 2-3 guys are pretty interchangeable, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see a different version of this be the actual roster.