For more images from Tuesday’s clinch and celebration, visit LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
Now that the Dodgers have won the National League West earned their spot in the National League Division Series, naturally we wonder who those 25 Dodgers in the next round will be. Here’s my look, and I’m speaking for myself here, not the organization.
The following 20 would appear to be locks, barring any late injury news:
Pitchers (8): Luis Avilan, Yimi Garcia, Zack Greinke, Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw, Juan Nicasio
Catchers (2): A.J. Ellis, Yasmani Grandal
Infielders (6): Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Chase Utley
Outfielders (4): Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Kiké Hernandez, Joc Pederson
That leaves five spots to fill. Expect at least three of those to go to pitchers. Here are the possibilities, with asterisks indicating the leading ones:
Starting pitchers Brett Anderson*, Alex Wood*: It’s really both of these guys for sure, except I leave open the chance that the Dodgers would completely commit before the NLDS begins to using Kershaw to start a Game 4, meaning that the Dodgers wouldn’t need a No. 4 starter. Even so, Wood’s splits against left-handed batters (.521 OPS in 2015) would argue for his inclusion.
Right-handed relievers Pedro Baez*, Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, Jim Johnson, Joel Peralta: At least three of these names will get left off, if not four. From this group, Baez and Johnson have been used the most out of the bullpen in the past month, with Baez generating the highest strikeout rate. Opponents are 2 for 20 with no walks and seven strikeouts against Peralta in September. After recently coming off the disabled list, Frias should conclude his late audition this week.
Left-handed relievers Adam Liberatore, Ian Thomas: With Michael Conforto, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Kelly Johnson and Daniel Murphy of the Mets all batting from the left side, it’s not inconceivable that the Dodgers would want an extra southpaw on the roster, though the infrequent use of Liberatore and Thomas in September would make either’s inclusion a surprise.
Position players Austin Barnes, Alex Guerrero, Chris Heisey, Justin Ruggiano*, Scott Schebler, Scott Van Slyke*: Probably two players at most from this group will reach the NLDS. Ruggiano’s September success makes him an obvious possibility — perhaps the leading one, perhaps even more so than Van Slyke (who can also back up at first base) — if the Dodgers want the opportunity to hammer a left-handed pitcher at a moment’s notice. Schebler intrigues me because the Dodgers will mostly face right-handed pitching in the NLDS, and therefore could use an extra left-handed bat off the bench. Longshots: Guerrero’s ability to sub in at third base is a point in his favor, while Barnes would allow the Dodgers to be more flexible with Ellis and Grandal.
Healing for the National League Championship Series: Jose Peraza, Yasiel Puig.