When the Los Angeles Dodgers announced their roster for the National League Championship Series, few could have imagined that just five games later we’d be talking about the World Series roster.
Even fewer could have guessed that Charlie Culberson played a sizable role in making it happen. In 11 plate appearances against the Chicago Cubs, Culberson went 5-for-11 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI, while playing the stellar defense many did expect from him.
So with Seager set to be added to the Dodgers’ roster for the World Series, what does that mean for Culberson?
The truth is there are a number of moving pieces at work here, so let’s explore the arguments for Culberson remaining on the roster, as well as the arguments against his inclusion.
Arguments for Culberson’s inclusion
While obviously a small sample size, Culberson’s NLCS performance speaks for itself. This is someone who isn’t afraid of the big moment. Not that the Dodgers are short on right-handed bats, but given Kyle Farmer’s performance (0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a sacrifice fly) thus far, it’s fair to wonder whether Culberson’s bat is more desirable.
Even ignoring which side a player hits from, would you really rather have Curtis Granderson (1-for-15 with eight strikeouts) in any situation?
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The final thing to consider — and probably the most forceful argument for inclusion — is just how healthy Seager really is. While the Dodgers will want his bat on the bench no matter what, isn’t it possible he’s not healthy enough to log nine innings for at least four more games?
Or that after a game or two, he might lose the strength to be anything more than a pinch-hitter?
Arguments against Culberson’s inclusion
Where does he play? Seager would likely never come off the field (if healthy), and the Dodgers presumably will already have two other second basemen on the roster in Logan Forsythe and Chase Utley.
Add in the fact that the team carried eight right-handed bats on the NLCS roster (and only five lefties), and it’s not as if the team is in desperate need of a right-handed department.
There’s also the sample-size thing. There’s a reason Culberson saw only 13 Major-League at-bats this season. He was 2-for-13 with four strikeouts, and is just not known for his bat.
Another hurdle is the simple numbers crunch. The Dodgers carried 13 position players in the NLDS (pre-Seager-injury) and upped that number to 14 with the loss of Seager.
It seems reasonable to assume that in a series like the one upcoming, and the way they like to utilize the bullpen, the Dodgers might opt for one less bat in favor of another arm. That would mean Culberson needs to beat out two other hitters for a spot on the World Series roster.
So, what’s the verdict? As much as I love the story of Culberson’s journey, and as much as I’d prefer to have him on the roster than Farmer or Granderson, I just don’t see the Dodgers going down that road.
They value having three catchers, and manager Dave Roberts has what seems to be a nonsensical trust in veterans such as Granderson.