Having already clinched a seventh consecutive National League West title at one of the earliest points in franchise history, the Los Angeles Dodgers will soon be tasked with constructing the best possible roster for what they hope is the start of another deep postseason run.
With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Dodgers have plenty of time on their side and don’t need to rush into making difficult decisions regarding players on the bubble for a spot on the NL Division Series roster.
Most of those decisions figure to correspond with the pitching staff, where there are arguably more question marks in comparison to the Dodgers’ deep position-player group.
That particularly holds true for the final spot in the starting rotation, which is again mired in uncertainty after Rich Hill exited Tuesday’s start against the Baltimore Orioles with an unfortunate MCL strain. Filling out the bullpen will also be a focus of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts in the final weeks leading up to October.
In terms of what stands out most to him when considering potential candidates, Roberts explained that he values a reliever’s ability to execute pitches over box score results, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“It’s more the process. I think that when you’re talking about the postseason and the pressure, execution matters. A flare, a bad walk, that’s a big difference. Executing pitches, those things matter when you get in the postseason.”
For all of the uncertainty that has surrounded the Dodgers bullpen this season, there are a few relievers who stand out as near-locks to be included on the NLDS roster.
The most obvious being Kenley Jansen, who has battled bouts of inconsistencies all season long. The 31-year-old is currently focused on reducing walks and improving his command in effort to close out the regular season on a strong note.
Other virtual locks for the Dodgers’ NLDS bullpen include the likes of Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly, Adam Kolarek, Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling.
Assuming the Dodgers once again deploy a 12-man pitching staff in the NLDS, that leaves the remaining six spots up for grabs to a list that features Caleb Ferguson, Dylan Floro, Yimi Garcia, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, Casey Sadler and Josh Sborz.
Hill could also garner a look if his latest injury allows it, considering he won’t be able to build back up as a starting pitcher with the limited time remaining in the regular season.