Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dodgers facing some tough, significant postseason roster decisions

With Sept. 1 quickly approaching, the Dodgers will have some difficult roster decisions to make, most of which pertain to the bullpen.

For players to be eligible for the postseason roster, they have to be on the active roster before 9 p.m. on Aug. 31. This also includes players on the disabled list.

Update (Aug. 17, 4 p.m.): I'm dumb sometimes. Thanks to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA for pointing it out. Anyone in the organization by Aug. 31 (let's say, Butera) can replace an injured player come postseason time. So, Butera wouldn't need to be recalled before the end of the month. However, the initial playoff roster has to come from those on the 25-man roster (and disabled list) before the Aug. 31 deadline. Sorry for the confusion.

Brian Wilson is likely going to be promoted to the Major League roster on Friday, meaning the Dodgers have a little roster shuffling in their future.

Chris Withrow is the pitcher likely to be impacted most. He has options remaining and could be sent back to Triple-A despite a 2.21 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, a surprising 3.1 BB/9 and a stellar 10.6 K/9. The 24-year-old flamethrower has been a pleasant surprise this season and should be a viable relief option come October. Perhaps a phantom DL stint for he or Carlos Marmol is in the Dodgers’ future plans.

Speaking of Marmol, he’s probably the “best” option to go in place of Wilson, but his effectiveness in recent outings has the Dodgers seeing the Marmol of old with tons of swing-and-miss potential.

Dee Gordon is currently eligible, but if Withrow or Marmol aren’t jettisoned for Wilson, Gordon could be, especially with Hanley Ramirez back in the fold.

Here are some Dodgers on the disabled list right now.

15-day DL

60-day DL

Beckett and Billingsley aren’t going to pitch again this season.

Dominguez, Kemp and Tolleson will remain on the DL -- regardless of their health -- until after Sept. 1, because it allows the Dodgers to use the injury loophole to make the most guys eligible for the postseason. This also allows Dominguez and Tolleson, who are in the same boat as Withrow in terms of options, to be postseason-eligible.

A guy not yet eligible is Stephen Fife, who has been fantastic this season. Unfortunately for him, the Dodgers don’t need a fifth (or in this case, sixth) starter in the playoffs. It’s unknown how he’d perform out of the bullpen, but he got roughed up in his most recent outing in Triple-A. Chris Capuano was roughed up last night and could use a late-season vacation, I’d say.

One would think the Dodgers should have a third catcher to be playoff-eligible, meaning Drew Butera would need to be promoted from Albuquerque. This could come in the form of a disabled list stint for either A.J. Ellis or Tim Federowicz.

Whatever happens, the Dodgers need to make sure Scott Van Slyke is eligible. His right-handed pop off the bench could be a valuable asset if the Braves throw Luis Avilan or Alex Wood; or the Pirates throw Tony Watson or Justin Wilson; or the Cardinals throw Randy Choate, Kevin Siegrist or Sam Freeman at the Dodgers in a late-inning situation.

There’s also Onelki Garcia, who I suspect has a good chance to be more than just a September call-up. So, General Manager Ned Colletti has a lot of work to do in the next couple of weeks. This doesn’t include any potential waiver-wire deals the Dodgers could make (but I’m not expecting any).

The position players are pretty much set, outside of Kemp and Van Slyke. Perhaps Jerry Hairston could use a couple weeks off starting rather soon. And this whole “four full-time outfielders” issue is going to be moot come the World Series when Andre Ethier is DH’ing for the Dodgers.

Here’s my prediction for all postseason-eligible players

Pitchers (16)
Chris Capuano
Jose Dominguez
Stephen Fife
Carlos Marmol
Shawn Tolleson
Brian Wilson
Chris Withrow

Catchers (3)
Drew Butera
A.J. Ellis
Tim Federowicz

Infielders (7)
Jerry Hairston
Hanley Ramirez

Outfielders (5)
Andre Ethier
Matt Kemp

For all these guys to be eligible, the following players who aren’t currently on the 25-man roster would have to be before the deadline: Butera, Fife, Van Slyke and Wilson. Here’s how it happens: 
  • Ellis or Federowicz to the DL for Butera
  • Capuano to the DL for Fife
  • Hairston to the DL for Van Slyke
  • Gordon to Triple-A for Wilson
The roster will be trimmed to 25 for the first round, but the additional players can at least be called upon to take the place of injured and/or ineffective players after each round.

Of all the players unsure to be postseason-eligible, Withrow is the one I want most. His control and command have been much better than expected and his mid-to-upper-90s fastball would be quite the weapon in the playoffs.

We’ll see what happens in the next couple weeks. Here’s hoping the Dodgers make some smart decisions.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue


  1. wouldnt the loophole allow a player on the 40 man to be able to replace Beckett/Billinsgley/Elbert/Tolleson(If he doesnt pitch again) without being up by September 1.

  2. I wouldn't be surprised to see a phantom DL stint for Dee. His wheels would be really nice as a playoff pinch runner.

  3. I think Kemp will be back before Sept. 1st