Dodgers: Luis Avilan Could Be the Only Change to the NLCS Roster

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: Reliever Luis Avilan
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: Reliever Luis Avilan /

As the Dodgers patiently await their opponent in the NLCS, Dave Roberts shifts his focus on reevaluating the roster for the NLCS after making quick work of the Dbacks. The roster is almost certainly already set regardless of which opponent the Dodgers face, but there is one slot that is up for grabs.

The Dodgers didn’t need to use their entire 25-man roster against the Dbacks. Dave Roberts only used 9 of his 12 pitchers that he carried on the roster. We saw Jansen, Morrow, Maeda, Watson, and Cingrani pitch multiple games in the NLDS. That left Baez, Stripling, and Wood without appearances this postseason, but they should be back for the NLCS.

Meanwhile, Roberts utilized all 13 of his position players. As we expected, Roberts split starts between Grandal and Barnes, Forsythe and Utley, and Granderson and Hernandez. Ethier and Farmer are primarily bench players and had one at-bat each.

The fact that Roberts used all his position players isn’t surprising. But the fact that he decided to use his relievers for multiple innings is interesting. I see why Roberts was hesitant to uses these pitchers as Baez and Stripling were both struggling to end the season. Wood was set to start game 4, and they just didn’t need a game 4 #humblebrag. So what does this mean for the roster in the NLCS?

For the most part, we can expect more of the same. I can see only one change to the roster that Roberts could make. Luis Avilan didn’t make the NLDS roster due to shoulder inflammation but is now healthy. In an interview on AM570 with Petros and Money, Dave Roberts said that Avilan would be in the mix for the final roster spot. When asked if the opponent factors into the roster decisions for the NLCS, Roberts had this response:

"“I don’t know. I think that there’s a little bit of trying to figure that out and try to see what matchup for our ballclub. But Louie Avilan is going to be back and healthy, he’s going to throw a simulated game tomorrow, so he’ll obviously be in the mix. And whether we stay with 8 relievers versus 7 and go with the extra position player that’s going to be debated. But I think that we’re pretty much set with the Cubs and Nationals, but there’s always that little debate with that 25th player.”"

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A few things to take away from that quote. Avilan is healthy and is likely going to be added to the roster. That means that the Dodgers will have to replace someone in the bullpen. Being that Stripling and Baez didn’t pitch in the division series, one of them is likely the odd man out. If you’d ask me I’d say Roberts should leave Baez on the roster over Stripling simply because Maeda has shown the ability to pitch in relief and can assume the role of the long relief role.

However, Eric Stephen made a note that Roberts was debating between Baez and Tim Locastro for the final spot on the NLDS roster. With that news, I’d understand why Baez is likely to be the odd man out. But I think that may have had a little more to do with Maeda’s relief pitching uncertainty.

The second note to take away from Roberts’ quote is that they will discuss adding another position player. That would mean dropping both Stripling and Baez to add Avilan and another position player.

I mentioned earlier that Roberts utilized all of his bench in the NLDS, so I can see why he would consider adding to it. I recall a situation in game two when Roberts ran out of right-handed bats off the bench late. But the reality is 13 bench players would be asking for a lot out of the pitching. They already have five outfielders and nine relievers (Kike counts for both). So they don’t really need depth anywhere outside of a right-handed bat.

The speedster Tim Locastro is being considered for the NLCS roster. Adding Locastro only makes sense if the Dodgers play the Cubs. The Cubs are one of the worst teams in the league in allowing stolen bases. Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and Kyle Hendricks all rank in the top 20 of stolen bases allowed. So in that situation, it may make sense. I’m just not ready to trust an unproven rookie who has yet to see big league pitcher’s pickoff moves in October.

Next: Pedro Baez Should Get the Final Roster Spot

Part of me wants to say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But Avilan has had success against both the Nats and the Cubs, so he’s useful. Especially against the Cubs with Rizzo, Heyward, and Schwarber. But that would mean there are three lefties in the bullpen and six overall. It’s funny to think that at the trade deadline left-handed relief pitching was one of the biggest needs for the Dodgers. Now in the NLCS, the Dodgers could potentially run out three viable lefty relievers. The deadline to submit the NLCS roster is Saturday morning before game 1.