The Dodgers are now one week away from playing for real. Kershaw vs Bumgarner to kick off the season. While Kershaw has not been automatic in the playoffs, he is unbeatable in opening games. The Dodgers have been 7-0 in Kershaw’s opening games, including 2 games against the Giants. The Giants fans I know have been drooling especially since JT broke his wrist, and the Dodgers and Giants face off 10 games before JT returns.
The Dodgers are now three days away from breaking camp in Arizona and heading back to LA for the Freeway Series. They also have a few roster spots remaining to be named. Depending on whether the Dodgers go with 7 or 8 in the bullpen, it basically boils down to 2 or 3 relief pitchers and 1 or 2 bench players. Most projections are going with 7 in the pen to start with. With five off days in April and JT going down until May, it makes sense to have that extra bench player, so I will go with 7 relievers.
The starting rotation is supposedly set, including Ryu. But I am still not convinced that he is ready. The Thursday game against the Angels will go a long way to show that he is capable of going at least 5 innings. Friday should start the rotation for good with Kershaw, followed by Wood, Maeda, Hill, and Ryu for the final spring training game on Tuesday.
Doc has already labeled Kenley, Alexander, Cingrani, Baez, and Stripling are set. That leaves Chargois, Font, Garcia, Fields, and Venditte playing for the final 2 spots. All of the projections I have seen include Fields as an automatic. I have seen some select Font, and some select Garcia to complete the bullpen. Font makes sense since he has no options remaining and he would most likely be claimed. I think Garcia needs to go back to OKC to get more meaningful innings in. I am going with J. T. Chargois who has been almost automatic this spring. I still think Pat Venditte has done everything he can do to make the roster, but he will be on the roster at some point.
The infield would have been set before JT’s injury. It still looks fairly straight forward with Bellinger, Forysthe, Seager, with Utley and Kike’ as a platoon at 2B.
Catcher is set with Grandal and Barnes.
The starting outfield is set with Kemp, CT3, and Puig.
With Utley and Barnes, two of the bench are set and three more need to be added.
Adding Farmer allows for the most diversification. Farmer can be a backup catcher allowing Barnes to play 2B, or Farmer can play 2B or 3B as well as 1B. That leaves 2 outfield spots with 3 possibilities; Toles/Joc/Thompson. All projections I have seen include Toles. Some have included Trayce. Again Trayce makes sense since he is out of options, and since JT is a RH bat, Thompson the lone RH candidate is a viable option. That leaves Joc or Toles. There is no question in my mind who the better player is or who earned the position…Andrew Toles. However, strong consideration needs to be given to what is best for the organization; Toles playing every day or sitting on the bench playing maybe once a week. IMO, Joc is a 4th or 5th OF and will be nothing more for the Dodgers. I think it makes sense to have Joc sitting on the bench getting that one PH, playing defense for Kemp, and having Toles hitting everyday with Verdugo at OKC.
My best guess is:
Starting Rotation (5):
Kershaw – LHSP
Wood – LHSP
Maeda – RHSP
Hill – LHSP
Ryu – LHSP
Jansen – RHRP
Alexander – LHRP
Cingrani – LHRP
Baez – RHRP
Stripling – RHRP
Fields – RHRP
Chargois – RHRP
If Thompson is traded or waived, I would expect Toles to make the 25 man.