As the Washington Nationals hewed and hawed about their starter for the second game of a National League division series, the Dodgers elected to reveal the entirety of their 25-man roster before a workout on Tuesday evening at Dodger Stadium, well ahead of Friday’s Game 1.
The lone surprise? The team will carry three catchers, bringing along rookie Austin Barnes to free up veteran backup Carlos Ruiz as a pinch-hitter against left-handed pitchers. The Dodgers will utilize a seven-man bullpen, with Joe Blanton, Pedro Baez, Grant Dayton, Josh Fields, Luis Avilan and Ross Stripling supporting closer Kenley Jansen.
The team chose Avilan over starter Alex Wood, who had made four appearances since returning from the disabled list in late September. Wood could be utilized later in the playoffs, if the Dodgers face a team with more left-handed hitters.
“Getting into the specifics of their hitters, we felt like [Avilan] matches up really well against them,” President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said. “He’s pitched really well this year, and has handled some of the adversity of being optioned, coming up and going back down.”
Charlie Culberson will round out a bench that also features veterans like Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier. The team chose Culberson over Enrique Hernandez, who has failed to hit well against left-handed pitchers this season. Hernandez will join a bevy of Dodgers, including high-priced pitchers like Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, in workouts at Camelback Ranch to stay fresh. Wood, veteran reliever J.P. Howell and utility man Rob Segedin will travel with the team as the taxi squad.
No worry with Andrew Toles
Andrew Toles wore a brace on his sore left wrist during Tuesday’s workout. Manager Dave Roberts indicated he was not worried about Toles’ readiness for Friday.
Toles, a rookie who started the season in Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, could start in left field against right-handed pitchers.
Left to wonder
It is no secret that the Dodgers’ greatest weakness is their inability to succeed against left-handed pitching, but it is unlikely that they will face the Nationals’ lone left-handed starter twice in the five-game series.
The Nationals have not announced their starting rotation beyond Max Scherzer in Game 1. If the Nationals wished to use left-hander Gio Gonzalez in Game 2 and Game 5, that would require Scherzer to start Game 4 on short rest.
The Dodgers ranked last among the 30 major league teams in batting average (.213), on-base percentage (.290) and slugging percentage (.332) against left-handers.
The Nationals were 1-5 against the Dodgers this season; Gonzalez was the winning pitcher in the only Washington victory. He held the Dodgers to one run over six innings July 20.
He went 11-11 with 4.57 earned-run average this season, but he posted a 7.43 ERA in his final five starts, pitching into the sixth inning once. In his last start, he made 100 pitches but did not complete four innings.
Daniel Murphy watch
Daniel Murphy has not started since Sept. 17 because of strained buttocks, but the Nationals expect their second baseman to be ready for the Dodgers series. Murphy hit .347 with 25 home runs this season.
Murphy, playing for the New York Mets last season, hit three home runs in a five-game NLDS victory over the Dodgers and four home runs in a four-game NLCS sweep of the Chicago Cubs.