Less than one week until Opening Day and here is my personal prediction of what the twenty-five man roster will look like. I’m going with more position players than pitchers because it seems like either way you go, there are multiple options for replacements. Whether it be in the minor leagues or shifting some utility players around, the Dodgers and Dave Roberts have a problem. Luckily for them it is a good problem to have.
Starting with position players, like I said above, I think there is an abundance of players who are all talented but obviously not everyone can make the active roster. Although they will make the forty man roster, they won’t actually be with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the infield I’ve got: Cody Bellinger playing first (obviously), Logan Forsythe playing second base, Corey Seager playing shortstop and Justin Turner playing third. Currently Justin Turner will be out with a fractured wrist for some time so don’t expect to see him on the field playing third base on Opening Day. Instead, you will see Logan Forsythe playing third and Enrique Hernandez platooning with Austin Barnes and Chase Utley for second base. I would personally like to see Kike playing second while Turner is out. Hernandez has been crushing the ball this Spring Training and has earned a spot on the team. Unfortunately for Kike, he is a super utility player that doesn’t have a solid position to get playing time. This is a minor downside to a player that will definitely contribute to the lineup.
Behind the plate will be Yasmani Grandal. Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts has announced that Grandal will be the starting catcher due to his offensive production and his superb framing skills. Austin Barnes will be the backup catcher for Grandal. This comes with the recent struggles of Barnes during Spring. However, this could change during the season as it did last year. Barnes was the backup but eventually moved up to the starter because of Grandal’s offensive decline. Along with these two catchers, I would hope to see Kyle Farmer be on the roster. Farmer has had a good Spring so far and is a solid catcher and third baseman.
Now we get to the outfield. Chris Taylor is in charge of Center while Yasiel Puig will dominate right field and catch almost everything that comes his way. Could this finally be the year that he wins a Gold Glove Award? Hopefully but who knows these days. Finally we arrive to left field. I’ve discussed left field in a previous post and it is because it’s the spot that is still up for grabs. Matt Kemp is more than likely the favorite to be the starter however Andrew Toles will be right there to take the spot if need be. Both have had great Spring Trainings, but only one can play at a time. That’s why I see both players platooning depending on who the opposing pitcher is and who has better numbers against righties or lefties.
Pitchers are always a tricky situation to deal with. A starter could go down and now you have to hope that a guy in the bullpen can make a spot start or actually take that spot in the rotation for a while. In the case that happens, the Dodgers do have a few players that can fill the need.
For pitching I’m going to start with the bullpen. The obvious closer for the Dodgers is going to be Kenley Jansen. I’ll make a bold statement here and say that he is the next Mariano Rivera. Jansen along with Craig Kimbrel is one of the most dominant closers right now in baseball. Getting back on track, the eighth inning guy is likely to be Pedro Baez or Scott Alexander who was acquired in the offseason. I personally don’t see what the front office sees in Baez but obviously he’s got some hidden talent that no one knows about. Besides these few pitchers, there are more than enough arms left. Tony Cingrani, Adam Libratore and Josh Fields are a few other players that will throw high heat in relief. Ross Stripling is probably the best option for long relief or to take the role of being a starter. He has filled in multiple times and is more than able to go at least five innings. Not to mention he’s a pretty good pinch runner.
Finally, I’ll name the five starters for the Dodgers. I discussed this in my last post but just to give you a refresher I’ll rename the five. The ace of the staff is 3x Cy Young Award Winner and 2014 NL MVP Award Winner, Clayton Kershaw. Behind him will be lefty Alex Wood who broke out last season and finished 16-3. Third in the rotation will be the old timer Rich Hill. Hill is definitely the most animated while pitching, however he is shaky at times. The fourth and fifth spots will be filled by right hander Kenta Maeda and left hander Hyun-Jin Ryu. Both pitchers hold their own and should be able to keep up the back end of the rotation.
Two pitchers that I assume will be called up at some point during the season will be Brock Stewart and Walker Buehler. Both are great youngsters that have potential to be stellar pitchers.
This is obviously not the final or set roster. This is just the roster that I believe will be on the field for Opening Day next Thursday. Of course, we won’t know any final roster results until maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. Hopefully this is the team that wins the NL West for the sixth consecutive year and wins the World Series for the seventh time in franchise history. Let me know who you think will make the roster and who won’t!