Matt Kemp is out for the playoffs, which sucks. Andre Ethier looks like he'll be limited to pinch-hitting duties in the National League Division Series, if he's even on the roster. At least the pitching appears to be healthy. However, Don Mattingly is playing coy with his potential No. 4 starter.
A few weeks ago, it would have been blasphemous to consider Edinson Volquez to start ahead of Ricky Nolasco in the playoffs, but it seems Mattingly is at least contemplating the headache-inducing idea.
Let's start with what we know, which is a lot.
- No surprises here.
- Again, no surprises in this group.
Scott Van Slyke
- The only surprises are Ethier and Kemp not making the roster due to injury.
- There's no way the Dodgers use five starters, but with the uncertainty surrounding Nolasco v. Volquez, they'll carry five of them.
- That's a healthy looking bullpen, especially with three lefties and three power righties. Also, Capuano can pitch multiple innings, if needed.
That's 24 players. It seems the Dodgers could use another outfielder -- preferably one who can play center field. With Ethier being limited to pinch-hitting duties, there's a real possibility he won't make the NLDS roster. If he were to pinch-hit late in a game, the Braves' manager Fredi Gonzalez would counter with a left-handed reliever in the form of Luis Avilan, Scott Downs or Alex Wood (assuming Wood won't be in the rotation). Much like Dee Gordon and his speed, Ethier shouldn't make the first-round roster for his bat -- a bat that's almost worthless against lefties. Don't get me wrong: I want Ethier to make it, but his bat would be virtually neutralized against lefties. He'd be better of getting healthy for the NLCS (and beyond) rather than risk aggravating his injury and the Dodgers being down yet another outfielder.
As unlikely as it seems, perhaps Jerry Hairston and his versatility wins the final spot on the initial playoff roster. If that's the case, the Dodgers would have Federowicz, Hariston, Punto, Van Slyke and Young on the bench against righties. Against lefties, it's safe to assume Van Slyke would start for Schumaker (with Puig moving to center field). Not exactly the '27 Yankees, but maybe not as bad as it looks.
Hairston, reluctantly, gets the final spot from me in the NLDS.
My ideal lineup vs. RHP
My ideal lineup vs. LHP
Van Slyke RF
The bottom-third of each lineup looks less-than imposing, but if the Dodgers advance to the National League Championship Series, perhaps Ethier will be good to go, which will give the team a boost (and likely boot Hairston or Capuano from the roster).
Can it be Thursday already?
Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue