Dodgers Making Final Opening Day Roster Decisions With Position Player, Relief Pitcher

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Prior to the Los Angeles Dodgers completing their exhibition schedule with a win over the L.A. Angels, manager Dave Roberts indicated the club was nearing completion of their Opening Day roster.

“We have two decisions to make, which we’re going to talk through,” he said. “We’re really close. We’ve talked to most of the guys. We got the extra position player that we’re still talking through, and there’s a bullpen spot we’re talking through.”

Following the Dodgers’ win, Roberts officially set the five-man starting rotation. Clayton Kershaw had already been named for a ninth career Opening Day start, and he’ll be followed by Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Julio Urias in the series with the San Francisco Giants.

That leaves Walker Buehler as the probable for the series opener with the Houston Astros on Tuesday, July 28. Kershaw is on track to face Justin Verlander in the two-game series finale at Minute Maid Park the following night.

In terms of overall roster composition, Roberts had previously indicated the Dodgers would carry anywhere from 15 to 17 pitchers.

On the position player front, Gavin Lux getting optioned has potentially created an opportunity for Zach McKinstry. “Zach has the skillset, the mindset to be a big league ballplayer right now,” Roberts said. “As they say, he’s an injury away. He’s right there.”

Edwin Rios is also thought to be part of the equation, particularly with the National League adopting a designated hitter this year.

Bullpen clarity and uncertainty

Newcomer Jake McGee struggled in his Dodgers debut, which could easily be attributed to a whirlwind couple of days in which he drove to Los Angeles from Denver after being released by the Colorado Rockies.

Roberts made it clear the team was not concerned with McGee’s results and he was expected to “be ready to go” for Opening Day.

That perhaps may be tied to Scott Alexander’s outlook. After reporting to camp late, he was limited to bullpen sessions during Summer Camp. Alexander didn’t appear in any intrasquad games or an exhibition despite Roberts indicating he would pitch against either the Diamondbacks or Angels.

“I expect him to be here [Wednesday], play catch to see where we’re at and we’ll make that decision on what’s best for Scott,” Roberts said. “Just a late arrival, the ramp up, making sure he’s comfortable.”

Elsewhere in the Dodgers’ bullpen, A.J. Ramos won’t be with the team on Opening Day. “A.J. has been impressive, albeit in a small stint,” Roberts said. “It’s been quite some time since he’s pitched, so for him it’s to go through the exercises of back-to-back days, potentially be ready for four or five outs, things he hasn’t done in quite some time.

“When you’re going through rehab, you warm up, pitch and then cool down. In baseball, there could be warming up, sit, not get in there, later on you’ve got to warm up and pitch. There’s things you can’t really simulate, so at the offsite we can do that for him. But he’s been very impressive.”

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