Early Prediction Of Dodgers’ 25-Man Roster
Early Prediction Of Dodgers’ 25-man Roster
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Friedman, Dave Roberts
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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Starting Pitchers: Brett Anderson, Scott Kazmir, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood

Barring a stunning turn of events, Hyun-Jin Ryu will begin the season on the disabled list. Although he continues to make progress in his recovery from last year’s shoulder surgery, he said recently that a return prior to May is unlikely.

Fortunately, the Dodgers have remarkable depth in their starting rotation. The question is: where does Ryu fit in once healthy? There’s reason to believe Wood is in line for a bounce-back season, and so with everyone healthy, manager Dave Roberts will have difficult decisions to make early on.

That said, this is a team that trotted out the most starting pitchers in the Majors last season, so sorting through the depth is a good problem to have.

Editor’s note: This was published prior to news of Brett Anderson’s back surgery

Relief Pitchers: Luis Avilan, Pedro Baez, Joe Blanton, Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen

Blanton is the only new face in this group, but as was previously detailed, this was one of the best (and unluckiest) bullpens in baseball last season — and that should hold true in 2016.

Just as the case with the starting rotation, part of the strength in the bullpen is depth. With the likes of Mike Bolsinger, Louis Coleman, Adam Liberatore, Frankie Montas, Josh Ravin, Yaisel Sierra and Ian Thomas all (presumably) lurking in the Minor Leagues to begin the season.

Near Misses On 25-Man Roster

The big omissions are Bolsinger, Coleman, Sierra, Alex Guerrero and Trayce Thompson. These are players who will be the first call-ups on the roster if an injury should occur, or who could move themselves into contention with an incredible spring. (Note: Guerrero has a clause in his contract that prevents him from being sent to the minor leagues, so omission from the 25-man roster would mean his release).

For Bolsinger and Thompson, the issue isn’t talent so much as the flexibility their remaining options provide (one each). It’s safe to say that both of these guys are probably good enough to make many other 25-man rosters, but the available flexibility likely means they’ll begin the season at Triple-A.

That leaves Coleman and Sierra, two of the team’s most recent signings in the bullpen. Coleman was a curious signing considering his lack of remaining options, however, there’s some belief he joined the Dodgers under the condition he’ll accept a minor league assignment. While this theory makes sense in light of the roster structure, it shouldn’t necessarily be taken as absolute fact.

Then there’s the mystery man, Sierra, who is now in camp having signed a six-year, $30 million deal out of Cuba. Some believed he may be tested as a starter to begin his career, but comments this week indicate his future lies in the bullpen — where reports have his fastball reaching the upper 90s.

Others with an outside chance at making the Opening Day roster (but who we’ll probably see before season’s end) are youngsters, Jharel Cotton, Jose De Leon, Micah Johnson and Julio Urias.

As you can see, the Dodgers’ 2016 roster figures to look remarkably similar to last year’s. For some this may be concerning, however it must be noted that this is a team coming off three-straight NL West titles — and this despite the rash of injuries they experienced, especially amongst the starting rotation.

So yes, it’s not a perfect roster, but it’s still one of the best in baseball — and one surely good enough to again reach the postseason.

And once that happens, anything is possible.