Braves' Dansby Swanson, Dodgers' Ross Stripling off rosters

ByAlden Gonzalez and Bradford Doolittle ESPN logo
Thursday, October 4, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- Promising young shortstop Dansby Swanson is officially unavailable for the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series, as is one of the Los Angeles Dodgers' All-Star pitchers.

Ross Stripling, who was invited to the Midsummer Classic as a starter in July, didn't crack the Dodgers' 12-man pitching staff. In his place was veteran late-inning reliever Ryan Madson, who has struggled through a 5.47 ERA this season but boasts a devastating changeup that could play well against the young Braves hitters.

Swanson has been getting treatment for a partially torn ligament in his left hand, suffered on a swing in a game last week. The 24-year-old hit .238 with 14 home runs in 136 games during the regular season and will be replaced by veteran Charlie Culberson, a former Dodger who had a career year as a utility player for the Braves, batting .270 with 12 home runs.

"He's probably been arguably maybe our most valuable player," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Culberson, who was acquired over the winter in the trade that sent outfielder Matt Kemp to the Dodgers.

The Dodgers went with an eight-man bullpen, with Kenta Maeda, Scott Alexander, Caleb Ferguson and much-maligned Pedro Baez -- who has given up only one run in his past 19 1/3 innings -- helping to serve as the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Rich Hill will serve as the starters, presumably in that order.

The Braves will also carry 13 hitters and 12 pitchers for the best-of-five series, likely a necessity stemming from the Dodgers' depth of options from both sides of the plate at most positions.

The Braves will keep their entire end-of-season starting rotation for the NLDS, with righties Mike Foltynewicz and Anibal Sanchez starting the first two games. The Braves haven't announced a Game 3 starter, but lefty Sean Newcomb and righties Julio Teheran and Kevin Gausman all made the roster.

Relievers Dan Winkler, Jesse Biddle and Shane Carle all were key parts of the Atlanta bullpen for most of the regular season but struggled down the stretch and were left off the roster against the Dodgers. Rookies Touki Toussaint, normally a starter, and Chad Sobotka made it.

Among the Atlanta position players, veteran outfielder Adam Duvall, a midseason acquisition from the Cincinnati Reds, did not make the roster. Lane Adams, who had just 29 regular-season plate appearances, may have taken Duvall's spot. Duvall hit just .132 after moving to the Braves.

The big-name position player off the Dodgers' roster is second baseman Chase Utley, a potential Hall of Famer who played very sparingly in what is expected to be his final season. The Dodgers have some semblance of a timeshare at every position except catcher (Yasmani Grandal is the starter), third base (Justin Turner) and shortstop (Manny Machado).