Some tough decisions are coming for skipper Don Mattingly heading into the postseason. While not everyone will be happy with his postseason roster, he has stated that he will be making his choices for the team’s best interests. While I’m no Major League manager, it’s always fun to play around with potential postseason lineups and rosters. I’ve narrowed down my postseason roster even though there is a certain tough cut to be made, and I fully expect Donnie to go with the veterans over the young guys. This is his first postseason as a manager, and I see him surrounding himself with those that have postseason experience. Here’s my roster for the NLDS round. This roster has 11 pitchers, 2 catchers, 5 outfielders (Skip can play both outfield and infield), and 7 infielders.
Catcher: The catcher position is a no-brainer. There’s no discussion here. A.J. and FedEx. A.J. may get all three game one through three starts in the NLDS. There’s no reason to see Drew Butera after September. We will see Butera again in Spring Training 2014. A.J. Ellis and FedEx have both struggled with the bat this year, but both are solid catchers. A.J. is invaluable when it comes to dealing with the pitching staff, and he has thrown out runners for a career high 44% in 2013. CS% may not pull that much weight with you, but to me it is a critical part of the game which does directly save runs. FedEx (.232) has thrown out 31% of runners this year. A.J. Ellis, who has nine homeruns this season, is someone you can turn to for a quality at bat. Ellis has had two recent clutch hits, and he could be getting hot at the right time. Let’s just hope there isn’t a play at home plate during the division series.
Outfield: Outfield is another area which seems to be pretty cut and dry. As long as they each are healthy, they will be on the postseason roster. Matt Kemp will be on the postseason roster. Even during his struggles over the past two years I have always supported Kemp’s return. I think most of his issues have a mental aspect which is understandable after having major shoulder surgery and multiple injuries. It would be easy to get down, but the postseason atmosphere has the potential to awaken Matt Kemp’s bat. He’s The Bison, so he’s in. Andre Ethier is in, and his notable center field during Kemp’s absence really solidified the outfield. He even had to deal with Yasiel Puig‘s antics and near collision prone defense and survived. Carl Crawford will be there, but he has been the biggest disappointment for me out of these outfielders. He hasn’t succeeded in the lead-off spot this season, and he rarely runs anymore. Skip Schumaker is a shoe-in, and I fully expect the Dodgers to sign the scrappy utility player during the offseason. Skip has played admirably this season filling in across the diamond at almost every position including pitcher.
Infield: Here’s where things get interesting. Of course Gonzo is a no-brainer. Hanley. There’s not much to say there. He’s your center piece player. Hanley is the one who will bring you that golden trophy. Hanley is one of the best hitters I have ever seen play. This will be Hanley’s first playoff appearance. He is on a mission. This is only Adrian Gonzalez‘s second playoff appearance surprisingly. He has only been in the NLDS once in 2006. Adrian will get you that clutch hit. He’s hitting .327/.380/.538 with runners in scoring position. Juan Uribe deserves to start in the NLDS. The comeback player of the year for the Dodgers has made us all forget about Luis Cruz. Nick Punto is another shoe-in. Punto has filled in commendably at shortstop when Hanley doesn’t play. We also have to see a October head first slide into first to make the Dodger postseason experience complete, right? Michael Young will definitely be on the postseason roster. He’s a good hitter, and he’s experienced in the postseason. That’s exactly why they picked him up. He’s hitting .248 in 34 postseason games. He’s been in 7 series. Young has 3 homeruns and 35 hits in his postseason career.
The last spot will go to Dee Gordon on my roster. I’m pretty sure Donnie will
You don’t dare start him, but his speed can be a secret weapon.
have Jerry Hairston Jr. on his roster. Now, I really do like JHair, but the thing is he just isn’t hitting well this season. The 37-year old utility player has played in 17 postseason games, and he is hitting .362 with 17 hits (no homeruns). Hairston has already said he may retire after this season, and I can’t see Donnie leaving him off. My pick for Dee is essentially to use him as a secret weapon. Like Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon’s speed can fluster pitchers and change the course of the game. With a slow lineup which includes Adrian Gonzalez, Gordon could be a added level to the offense in late innings. Another option would be Scott Van Slyke who offers some punch off the bench, but there’s no way Donnie is putting SVS on instead of JHair.
Pitchers: The Dodgers will of course go with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in games one and two of the NLDS. I suspect that they will start Hyun-jin Ryu third who has had a stellar rookie season. The Korean left-hander has tuckered out a bit down the stretch, but Ryu has been a solid number three pitcher this season. Ricky Nolasco had an excellent stretch after being traded to the Dodgers, but Ricky has had one disaster of a start and another disappointment in the last two outings. It would be nice to have a fourth starter in case of the dreaded early starting pitcher exit which happens even in the postseason (Johnny Cueto). Mattingly may wait to see which team they will be matched up against in the NLDS before deciding whether Ryu or Nolasco pitch game three. Ryu is my pick.
Brian Wilson has really proven that he deserves a spot on the postseason roster. Photo: Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports
As far as the bullpen, there’s going to be have to be some cuts. Most are shoe-ins. Chris Withrow has been a nice surprise going down the stretch. He’s been a bit shaky in his last couple of outings, and you have to wonder how the postseason stakes will affect him. Brian Wilson has been excellent since joining the Dodgers. That’s no surprise to me since he was always lights out against the Dodgers when he was wearing the wrong color. Aside from his shtick and his beard, he is actually a very good pitcher. He has a .079 ERA in 15 games and 11 1/3 innings pitched. Wilson also has postseason experience. Then you must decide Carlos Marmol? Brandon League? Edinson Volquez? Well, if we have Ricky and Ryu we really don’t need Volquez. Volquez has showed some promise, and he may work out his ticks with Rick Honeycutt more during the offseason. Brandon League is just not good. He’s been terrible this year. I’m not going to sugar coat this. Brandon League is not pitching well at all, and he should not be on the postseason roster. So Carlos Marmol will be in the bullpen. Marmol has been decent. He actually has a 2.79 ERA with the Dodgers in 19 games. He’s struck out 24 and walked 17. He’s better than Matt Guerrier.
There’s my postseason roster for the NLDS. What are your picks? Do you drop Dee and add Jerry? Do you use Volquez instead of Marmol? Do you despise Brandon League?
Donnie better be doing his homework.