When the Los Angeles Dodgers formally announced their active roster for the 2019 National League Division Series, it was without any surprises. Beyond the obvious locks to make the roster and those who had performed well to earn their way onto, manager Dave Roberts had tipped his hand.
It was known for multiple weeks that Ross Stripling would be a member of the bullpen — as Roberts twice publicly stated as much — and the fourth-year manager revealed during an NLDS workout the likes of Matt Beaty and Gavin Lux were set to experience playoff baseball as well.
While the Dodgers have their roster in place, Roberts identified Austin Barnes, Dylan Floro, Tony Gonsolin and Edwin Rios as players who will travel with the Dodgers when the NLDS shifts to Nationals Park.
Meanwhile, the likes of Caleb Ferguson and Casey Sadler are expected to report to Camelback Ranch to remain in position to be available in the event of injury or roster changes if the Dodgers advance to the NL Championship Series.
There was a stretch of time where Gonsolin appeared to be a strong candidate to be active with the Dodgers during the NLDS, and carrying him and Dustin May was a scenario Roberts acknowledged could come to fruition.
However, with Rich Hill overcoming a second MCL strain in his left knee and thus being anointed a Game 4 starter, it seemingly bumped Gonsolin off the roster. The versatility of Stripling to serve as a long man also made the rookie somewhat expendable.
Barnes, Floro and Rios each figured to face an uphill battle because of others ahead of them. Barnes lost the starting catching job to Will Smith, Floro’s success tapered off after strong start to the season, and it was initially believed Rios’ season came to an end when Triple-A Oklahoma City played their final game of 2019.
Roberts went so far as to rule out Kyle Garlick and Rios receiving a September call-up, but the Dodgers adjusted their plans in the wake of Alex Verdugo suffering a setback at the beginning of his rehab assignment.
Verdugo, who was initially sidelined by a strained oblique and how is dealing with back trouble, hoped to return if the Dodgers advance to the NLCS. However, he and Roberts have all but ruled out the possibility of the rookie outfielder playing at any point during the 2019 postseason.
For all the clarity the Dodgers largely had with setting their NLDS roster, it still came with the challenges on a personal level. “It’s tough,” Roberts said Thursday.
“It’s one of those things that all these guys have been invited to the dance and once the invitations are handed out, they’re essentially left at the doorstep. We don’t see it that way but you’ve got players who have a lot of pride and feel they can contribute to the 25-man roster, you’ve got families that are excited.
“My messaging is understanding that things could change going forward, whether it be injury or matchup. We’ve used 50-something guys this year and needed every single one of those guys. Those conversations certainly are difficult, and you’ve got to be sensitive to that.”