Dodgers Roundtable: Predicting NLCS Roster, Starting Rotation Against Braves

The Los Angeles Dodgers made two changes to their postseason roster from the Wild Card round to National League Division Series, and now have the opportunity to do more tinkering prior to facing the Atlanta Braves in the NL Championship Series.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Edwin Rios continues to improve from a groin injury that kept him off the NLDS roster, and he indicated the team was talking over the bullpen to ensure they are in the best position for matchups with the Braves.

Should Rios be put back on the active roster, that could mean removing Gavin Lux, or potentially Matt Beaty or Terrance Gore.

A potential bullpen addition is less clear. The most likely candidate would appear to be Alex Wood, but whether that would come at the expense of another pitcher or perhaps a position player is unknown.

Also undecided is how the Dodgers will utilize their starting rotation after Walker Buehler in Game 1 and Clayton Kershaw in Game 2. Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Julio Urias each could make a traditional start in any order, serve as an opener or even a bulk option out of the bullpen.

Ahead of the Dodgers needing to set their NLCS roster Monday morning, the staff submitted their choices and how they would order the starting rotation.

Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015):

Starting pitchers: Walker Buehler, Tony Gonsolin, Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, Julio Urias

Relief pitchers: Pedro Baez, Dylan Floro, Victor Gonzalez, Brusdar Graterol, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Adam Kolarek, Jake McGee, Blake Treinen, Alex Wood

Catchers: Austin Barnes, Will Smith, Keibert Ruiz

Infielders: Kiké Hernandez, Max Muncy, Edwin Rios, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, Justin Turner

Outfielders: Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Joc Pederson, AJ Pollock

Going to assume Rios has made enough improvement and will be added back to the roster, and given Roberts suggesting there could be a change in the bullpen, Wood makes the cut for me as well. Lastly, with Austin Barnes hitting well, carrying Keibert Ruiz as a third catcher makes sense to provide even more flexibility with the lineup.

Removed from the NLDS roster are Beaty, Gore and Lux.

The starting rotation is anyone’s guess, but considering Gonsolin pitched in a simulated game during Saturday’s workout, normal rest leaves him on target to possibly start Game 4. Game 3 could follow a similar format from the previous round.

Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):

The only change I was make to the roster for the NLCS would be adding Rios if he is healthy enough to play. Rios was in the starting lineup in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series and has provided big hits for the Dodgers all season.

Lux, on the other hand, hasn’t brought much to the table this season so I would go with Rios over him.

As far as the rotation goes, the planning should be a little different this series considering they could potentially be playing seven games in seven days.

Because of that, I’m not expecting them to use May out of the bullpen (or as an opener), much as they did in the NLDS. If he is their Game 5 starter, then maybe he can give them an inning or two in Game 1, but other than that, he should be on a normal starters schedule this series.

I would go with Julio Urias in Game 3 followed by Gonsolin and May, in some order. Buehler and Kershaw would then be back for Games 6 and 7, respectively, on normal rest.

This means the Dodgers will have to rely more on their true bullpen arms to finish out games, but that is just the nature of possibly playing seven straight games.

Matt Borelli (@mcborelli):

I have the Dodgers making just one change to their postseason roster, swapping out Beaty for a third catcher in Ruiz. With the possibility of playing up to seven games in seven days, it is almost a certainty Kershaw will make multiple starts in the NLCS.

That means Barnes will likely be behind the plate in at least two games, so the only way to keep Smith’s hot bat in the lineup is at designated hitter. The presence of Ruiz will allow Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to construct his lineup that way without hesitation.

After Buehler and Kershaw start, I am leaning toward May and Gonsolin in the next two games. Urias is a candidate to start a potential Game 5, but depending on the situation, the Dodgers could also turn to Buehler on short rest.

Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel):

Pitching-wise, I’m going to stick with the same group. I’m afraid Wood might get added (hopefully not at Dylan Floro’s expense), but for my prediction I’ll leave things as is.

Offensively, I think Rios gets added in place of Gore. If they need some speed off the bench, Lux can provide that (while also not being a completely liability at the dish). I’d prefer Ruiz gets added, but I just don’t see it happening here.

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