Dodgers taking 7 rookies to postseason

ByDoug Padilla ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 5, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers hope to spring some youthful exuberance on the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series.

The Dodgers plan on carrying seven rookies into the playoffs, along with 10 players who have spent at least some time in the minor leagues this year when roster turnover seemed to be a daily occurrence.

The Dodgers put 28 players on the disabled list this season, the most by one team in at least 30 years, providing opportunities aplenty for players in the organization.

When the season ended, the Dodgers were carrying the full allotment of 40 players, and whittling it down to the necessary 25 proved to be challenging.

"It was probably the most challenging roster construction for the playoffs that I have ever been a part of," said Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "I think it's a testament to the depth that we have and just a number of different guys who contributed throughout the year.

"We feel like the group we put together is a group that matches up really well with Washington, and we're excited to get going."

When the NLDS starts in the nation's capital Friday, Corey Seager will not only be the signature rookie on the Dodgers' roster, he will be one of the team's key performers. Seager is expected to win the NL Rookie of the Year award. But he is far from the only first-year player.

Other Dodgers rookies on the NLDS roster include Andrew Toles, Austin Barnes, Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, Kenta Maeda and Grant Dayton. In addition, non-rookies who spent some time in the minor leagues include Luis Avilan, Charlie Culberson, Josh Fields, Pedro Baez and Yasiel Puig.

It will be a tall order for such a young Dodgers roster, but if the club showed a distinct trait this year, it is to accept and overcome challenges, especially with having to overcome injuries. If they are to beat the Nationals, they will have to do it without home-field advantage.

"With October baseball, it's more of teams that execute that have a tendency to win more," manager Dave Roberts said. ""Pitching drives the postseason, but there is also that execution component, that focus component. With our guys, all year long, we've talked about playing every pitch and staying focused, and that's why, with this series coming up, I like our chances. We've shown we can execute when we need to and focus pitch to pitch."

It's not as if the Dodgers will be without veterans. Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill will lead the pitching staff. Chase Utley, Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner will lead the offense. The Dodgers know a combination of steady veterans and up-and-coming youngsters is a healthy balance, but ultimately, the roster is not only about who is playing well now, but who is best capable of giving the Nationals problems.

"I think the environment that [Roberts] and the coaches have created, that our veteran players have created, has allowed these guys to come up from the minor leagues and be incredibly comfortable," Friedman said. "That is something we expect to carry on."

Roberts did not make his NLDS roster official, but he gave enough clues Tuesday to make an educated guess as to how it will look. Here is the roster that is expected to be available Friday:

Starting pitchers (4): Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, Urias.

Relief pitchers (7): Kenley Jansen, Joe Blanton, Baez, Stripling, Avilan, Dayton, Fields.

Catchers (3): Yasmani Grandal, Carlos Ruiz, Barnes.

Outfielders (6): Howie Kendrick, Joc Pederson, Josh Reddick, Puig, Toles, Andre Ethier.

Infielders (5): Gonzalez, Utley, Seager, Turner, Culberson.

Players who will travel with the team, but not be available to play, include Alex Wood, Rob Segedin and J.P. Howell. In the past three postseasons, Howell has been in the Dodgers' bullpen, but he did not make the cut this time.

"He's been a big part of what we have done this year, not just between the lines, but he has been a huge part of the success of our bullpen, with the mentorship," Friedman said of Howell. "Obviously he will be with us, but he, as everybody would expect, was a total pro. But still, it was not easy."