While we may have felt relatively confident in our ability to prepare for October early in Los Angeles this year, variables shift significantly over the course of a regular season.
Think about it this way. If you were asked to prepare a Dodgers postseason roster back in June, would Ryan Brasier be on it? No chance, right? Now, if Brasier isn't handling crucial eighth innings in the NLDS, you'd be bummed and questioning the decision-making.
Brasier could be 2023's Tommy Kahnle (for better or worse), and is just one piece of a 12-pronged Dodgers puzzle meant to piece together innings and patch over rotation holes this fall. The offense might be mashing one through nine, but the pitching staff will be nearly improvised in October, meaning the Dodgers have room for as many high-upside pieces as they can possibly find.
The Dodgers' playoff starting lineup and bench unit don't have much baked-in wiggle room. The pitching staff? LA could go a number of different ways. They could lean on experience and bring Alex Vesia along (we'd argue they shouldn't). They could roll with only one traditional starter (we'd argue they shouldn't, but we might be overruled here). They could add someone to the playoff roster who's currently in the minors (we're pro).
Whatever the Dodgers choose, their 2023 postseason run will feature all hands on deck. We're just aiming to make sure they don't leave any effective hands behind.
3 secret weapons Dodgers must make sure are on 2023 Playoff Roster
Shelby Miller, RHP
Miller is probably a postseason roster lock after returning from injury on Aug. 31 with his best fastball already locked and loaded. This section was mainly intended to reiterate just how impressive he's been, and how far up the ladder he might deserve to move based on his recent body of work.
After looking like a disaster in his early spring training work, Miller has proven the Dodgers' analytics team correct by harnessing his spin this season and keeping his command on point. On the season, he has a sparkling (and out of character) 0.93 WHIP in 40 innings of work, maintaining a 1.80 ERA and striking out approximately a batter per inning (41, to be exact).
Since returning from injury, Miller has yet to allow an earned run across 10 outings.
Is the shift in gears permanent? Can the Dodgers count on Miller going forward to 2024? Literally impossible to say. He's always been a tough-to-harness free spirit. But right here and now, Miller might be the most untouchable option in the Dodgers' bullpen, and heading into October, he deserves a routine crack at high-leverage innings. Just don't overuse him (and have someone steadier in reserve).