Four days before the Dodgers need to release their first-round playoff roster, Manager Dave Roberts settled one of the biggest questions about the composition of the 25-man unit. Despite missing the first five months of the season because of a broken leg that has still not fully healed, veteran outfielder Andre Ethier will be part of the team.
Roberts confirmed Ethier's presence on the roster to face Washington before Sunday's regular-season finale against the Giants. Ethier has recorded four hits in 23 at-bats this season, batting .174 with a home run and a double. Roberts insisted he still believed in the upside Ethier offered as a pinch-hitter.
"I told him from the very beginning that I don't care how many hits he gets," Roberts said. "I just want the at-bat quality that I've seen in the past 10 years over the course of his major league career. I've seen that. The legs look good. The value that he can give us off the bench against a quality relief pitcher, I like it."
Ethier figures to appear in late-game situations against right-handed pitchers. His addition creates a crowd in the Dodgers outfield for the first round. Roberts has said the roster will include Joc Pederson, Josh Reddick, Andrew Toles, Howie Kendrick, Yasiel Puig and now Ethier.
Roberts indicated the team has not decided on how many pitchers or position players to carry against the Nationals. But the surplus of outfielders does reduce the chances of Enrique Hernandez making the club. The Dodgers have been pleased with reserve infielder Charlie Culberson's at-bats against left-handed pitchers, and Pederson has also received more playing time against left-handers in recent days.
After crushing left-handers in 2015, Hernandez struggled this season. He hit .190 overall with a .668 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against left-handers.
Pederson looked somewhat shaken after a hard landing on a diving attempt in center field in Sunday's eighth inning. Pederson stayed in the game, and indicated afterward that the initial pain in his right shoulder had faded away. "It's all good," he said.