Inside the Dodgers: A final postseason roster projection

first_imgON THE BUBBLEPitchers (6 for 2 spots): Dustin May, Caleb Ferguson, Tony Gonsolin, Ross Stripling, Dylan Floro, Casey Sadler– Floro is the longest of the longshots here. Maybe you wrote him off already, maybe not, but I’ll quickly explain the thinking. He entered a tie game on Sept. 6 against the Giants and was allowed to face seven batters. He allowed two hits and two walks. Since then, Floro has faced 19 batters out of the bullpen, and exactly two came in high-leverage situations. That’s not something a manager does when he’s auditioning a pitcher for a postseason bullpen job.– The case for Sadler is stronger on merit, but I’m also ruling him out based on usage. He appeared in just three of the Dodgers’ final 13 games, including one appearance as an opener – a role the Dodgers weren’t auditioning anyone for in October. Playing devil’s advocate: Other than one Asdrubal Cabrera at-bat, no one on the Nationals’ roster has faced Sadler in the majors. Maybe this was all just a ploy to Keep Casey Sadler Unpredictable, but somehow I doubt it.– I think Stripling is out, too. His go-to secondary pitch is a knuckle-curve that limited opponents to a .167/.183/.241 slash line this year. That’s a great weapon against most teams, but not the Nationals. They have several guys who hit this pitch well – Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon, Adam Eaton and Juan Soto in the starting lineup, and Yan Gomes off the bench. If they can banish Stripling’s curveball from his repertoire, they have effectively eliminated his best weapon. Stripling’s repertoire is diverse enough that the Dodgers could reasonably expect him to be effective in a 3- or 4-batter spurt. He would probably get exposed against this particular lineup sooner rather than later, however, and the Dodgers are liable to need multiple innings from whoever gets this job.– Gonsolin’s go-to secondary pitch is a spilt-finger fastball and, whoa, check this out. Only Adam Eaton and Juan Soto have hit the pitch well this year. Rendon, the Guy You Worry About The Most in the Nats’ lineup, has four singles, no other hits, and three strikeouts against the splitter in 2019. As for his recent usage, Gonsolin’s penultimate outing was a scoreless appearance in relief of Rich Hill, and the Dodgers will ask someone to replicate that performance in their if-necessary Game 4. No Nationals hitters have ever faced the rookie right-hander, at least in the majors, so Gonsolin has unpredictability in his favor too. I’ll pencil him in for this round.– May would be tough to leave off any roster after how effortlessly he adapted to the bullpen. But consider the matchup. May lives off a high-velocity, high-spin repertoire, and the Nationals hit velocity fairly well. We can get even more granular with Statcast, isolating their individual hitters’ performance against pitchers with a similar velocity, spin rate, and release point (relative to home plate) to May’s 4-seam/sinker/cutter triumverate. The results? Howie Kendrick (.610), Juan Soto (.470), Kurt Suzuki (.441), Trea Turner (.402), Ryan Zimmerman (.392) and Anthony Rendon (.370) all had above-average expected weighted on-base averages against May’s nastiest stuff. The Dodgers will run a more sophisticated matchup simulator than mine, so don’t take it as gospel when I say there’s reason to believe this isn’t the best matchup for May. Just know that if he gets left off the 25-man roster, it might be because the Dodgers like a better late-game option against the heart of the Nats’ lineup.– Ferguson has a plus fastball that he throws roughly two-thirds of the time. The rest of his pitches are high-spin curves that produce a ton of horizontal break. We know they can handle velo, but how are the Nats doing against high-spin curves from left-handed pitchers this season? Oh. Oh my. They flat-out don’t see lefties throwing curveballs like that. A lot of them came from Rich Hill; a couple came from Ferguson himself. Of the Nationals’ nine at-bats that ended on such a pitch in 2019, only two ended in hits and both were singles. Potentially, Ferguson has a weapon the Nationals aren’t prepared to do any damage against. Throw in a stifling string of appearances to end the season, and I think Ferguson gets the last bullpen spot.The absence of May, and to a lesser extent Stripling, could qualify as a surprise when rosters are revealed tomorrow morning. Choosing Ferguson over May and Stripling represents the biggest tradeoff. Specifically, should one of these games go extra innings, Stripling or May could pull a Nathan Eovaldi in a pinch. Ferguson cannot; he hasn’t completed three innings in a game all season. There’s some risk in that, because Hill is going to be limited to four innings in Game 4.That’s what makes those final bullpen spots such tough calls. No matter who gets left out this round, expect Roberts to declare them candidates to join the Dodgers’ roster in the NLCS should they make it that far. And if they do, we’ll run this exercise again.-J.P.Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.More readingWild finish – The Nationals eliminated the Brewers in last night’s Wild Card game, clinching a trip to Dodger Stadium. Prior experience necessary – Dodgers bullpen coach Mark Prior honed his famously demanding work ethic early in his playing career.‘He’s a superstar’ – Does Cody Bellinger have to play like one for the Dodgers to win a championship? Heightened expectations – Dave Roberts believes this Dodgers team is the best he’s managed. LOCKSPosition players (13): Will Smith, Russell Martin, David Freese, Gavin Lux, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Kiké Hernandez, Chris Taylor, Matt Beaty, Joc Pederson, A.J. Pollock, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy.– Dave Roberts confirmed Tuesday that Beaty and Lux will be on the roster. Justin Turner (back) was cleared to play Thursday. That ended. any suspense over the final bench spots. There wasn’t much suspense to begin with.Pitchers (10): Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler, Rich Hill, Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly, Adam Kolarek, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urías– I can’t envision any of these guys not making it at this point. They’ve been too integral to the Dodgers’ formula for too long. Thanks to Joe Kelly’s 20-pitch bullpen Tuesday, followed by a thumbs up in the direction of Roberts, it seems they’re all healthy too. Editor’s note: This is the Wednesday, Oct. 2 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.We know the Dodgers’ opponent for the National League Division Series.We know a few players who won’t make the team, some who will, and a few calls that are close enough to be “on the bubble.”It’s time to take one last stab at projecting who will be on the Dodgers’ 25-man NLDS roster.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img


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