LOS ANGELES — So far, the Dodgers’ 2017 season has been all about the numbers.
An L.A. Dodgers record-tying 102 victories (so far). A franchise record and MLB-best 57-24 home record. An unexpected (and unprecedented) 1-16 collapse.
And the strength in numbers provided by depth. That depth was critical in producing the Dodgers’ fifth consecutive NL West title and sending them into the postseason with the best record in baseball.
But the Oklahoma City shuttle has been grounded until next year. Fifty-one players suited up for the Dodgers this season. Thirty-nine members of the 40-man roster were in uniform in September (everyone but Julio Urias who did show up for his bobblehead promotion this past week). When the postseason starts next week, however, the Dodgers will be restricted to 25 players at a time like every other playoff team.
“The postseason roster is not clear,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said this week. “We’re honestly just trying to win baseball games and really try to keep this momentum going. We have plenty of time to work through that. We really do. Everyone is anxious to kind of pin us down and make a decision. But there’s really no sense of urgency on that. We don’t play until next Friday.”
Actually, the postseason roster has become pretty clear in the last couple weeks with very few decisions still to be made. The Dodgers can still tailor it around the edges to their yet-to-be-determined opponent and Roberts was right when he pointed out that “a lot can change in that time” before rosters have to be submitted before Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Friday at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers’ front office is certainly capable of springing a surprise. But here’s what it will probably look like:
STARTING PITCHERS (4) LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Yu Darvish, LHP Rich Hill, LHP Alex Wood:
Or maybe … There’s no maybe. The Dodgers have made a good show of considering their options with Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Wood has a history in the bullpen and could be valuable there – but how valuable with their three left-handed relievers each pitching pretty well down the stretch? Ryu’s return from multiple surgeries has been a positive story this season. But Wood has outpitched him and deserves the starting assignment in Game 4 – an assignment that has gone to Kershaw on short rest in previous NLDS. In Year Two of his back problems, that is a less likely option this time around.
RELIEVERS (8) RHP Kenley Jansen, RHP…