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Dodgers Dugout: A look at a possible playoff roster

Mookie Betts
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and the playoffs are almost here.

Predicting a playoff roster can be a fool’s errand. Most of the roster picks are obvious, so it comes down to three or four players. And without access to all the internal numbers the Dodgers will be using, you just use your best guess. But, as long-time readers know, I’ve never been afraid of playing the fool, so here it goes.

There are 28 spots on the postseason roster, three more than the usual 25. Let’s start with the mortal locks to make the roster:

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Catchers (2)
Austin Barnes
Will Smith

Infielders (4)
Max Muncy
Edwin Ríos
Corey Seager
Justin Turner

Infielder-Outfielders (4)
Cody Bellinger
Mookie Betts
Kiké Hernandez
Chris Taylor

Remember, Betts started a game at second base this season. I think the Dodgers would be crazy to play him there, but you never know.

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Outfielders (1)
AJ Pollock

That gives us 11 position players so far. I don’t think Gavin Lux or Joc Pederson are locks to make the roster, but I think it is highly likely they will.

Starting pitchers (5)
Walker Buehler
Tony Gonsolin
Clayton Kershaw
Dustin May
Julio Urías

Remember, once a playoff series starts, there are no off days, so unlike most postseasons you won’t be able to rely on just three (maybe four) starters. Rotation depth will really come into play here, and the Dodgers have one of the best 1-5 rotations in baseball. Of course, this is contingent on Buehler’s blister problem being solved.

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Left-handed relievers (3)
Victor González
Adam Kolarek
Jake McGee

Right-handed relievers (4)
Brusdar Graterol
Kenley Jansen
Joe Kelly
Blake Treinen

That gives us 12 pitchers and 23 players overall. So we add Lux and Pederson. That gives us 13 position players and 12 pitchers. Room for three.

Let’s add two more pitchers. But who? A lot will depend on who the Dodgers face in the first round and how those pitchers match up with that team. But for now, I’m going to go with Pedro Baez and Dylan Floro. They have postseason experience. Floro has pitched well this season and Baez, well, he has postseason experience.

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That gives us 14 pitchers and 13 position players, 27 players overall. Room for one more. First I’ll tell you what I would do, then what I predict the Dodgers will do.

If it were me (with the caveat that these decisions are a lot easier to make from the comfort of my desk), I’d go with Keibert Ruiz. Why? This allows the team to start Barnes at catcher and make Smith the DH, with a catcher remaining on the bench in case of emergency. I’d start Taylor at second, keeping Lux out of the lineup. Infield of Muncy, Taylor, Seager and Turner. Outfield of Pollock, Bellinger and Betts. Barnes behind the plate. Smith at DH. That is the best lineup. Hernandez can sub in late for defense if you have a lead.

However, I think the Dodgers will opt for a 15th pitcher. And with no days off, they may be correct. That means the final spot goes to Alex Wood, Josh Sborz or Mitch White. The spot probably goes to Wood, who can give then multiple innings out of the bullpen, if needed.

So, there you have it. That opening best-of-three series still scares me. If the Dodgers can get past that, then I like their chances. The Dodgers’ best-of-three series will start a week from Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

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Who’s in the playoffs?

Remember, this season 16 teams make the postseason, eight in each league. The three division winners, the three second-place teams and the remaining two teams with the best record make the playoffs in each league. They are seeded as follows: 1-3 (division winners in order of best record); 4-6 (second-place teams in order of best record); 7-8 (remaining two teams in order of best record). No. 1 will play No. 8 in the first round, No. 2 vs. No. 7, etc. First round is best of three, with all three games played at the home stadium of the team with the better seeding. As of Sunday, here are the NL seedings:

1. x-Dodgers, 38-16
2. Chicago, 32-22
3. Atlanta, 32-22
4. x-San Diego, 34-20
5. Miami, 28-26
6. St. Louis, 26-25
7. Cincinnati, 28-27
8. Philadelphia, 27-27

x-clinched playoff spot

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The first tiebreaker is head-to-head record (if applicable). The next tiebreaker is intra-division record. The next is record in the final 20 division games (plus one until the tie is broken).

Who will win the World Series?

Baseball-reference.com ran 1,000 simulations of the rest of the season and postseason. Here’s who won the World Series the most times:

Dodgers, 219 times
Atlanta, 153
NY Yankees, 90
Minnesota, 67
Oakland, 67
Houston, 67
Tampa Bay, 57
Cleveland, 47
Chicago Cubs, 39
Chicago White Sox, 38
St. Louis, 35
San Diego, 34
Philadelphia, 32
Toronto, 16
San Francisco, 14
Miami, 10
Milwaukee, 8
NY Mets, 4
Cincinnati, 3

Your first Dodgers memory

I have thousands of responses, so if I don’t get to yours right away, don’t worry, I will eventually. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it may run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name. And don’t send only a sentence, tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. And remember, it’s first Dodgers memory, not favorite Dodgers memory. Thanks.

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John Jackson of Burbank: I grew up in Atlanta, and my first real Dodgers ‘memory’ comes from the year the Braves went from worst to first before losing the World Series to Kirby Puckett.

Until 1991 we were used to the Braves losing 100 games a year so they didn’t really have any rivalries with other teams since the Braves were usually mathematically eliminated by the All-Star game. But the race between the Braves and Dodgers at the end of the ‘91 season (when they were both in the NL West) was pretty exciting. I think the Braves finally clinched the division on the last or next to last day of the season.

One radio station in Atlanta would always refer to L.A. as the ‘scum-sucking Dodgers’, so any time anyone in town talked about the pennant race it was the Braves vs. the scum-sucking Dodgers.

The good news is now that I’ve lived in L.A. almost as long as I lived in Georgia, I’ve come around and now I bleed Blue!

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Chris Reynolds: The first major league game I ever attended was a Dodgers game in the Coliseum, sometime in the summer of 1959. I was 8 so I don’t remember who was pitching or even who they were playing. Two memories survive: one of watching Wally Moon up close from our left-field seats; the other was of the family in front of us who were passing a little gadget with an earphone from person to person. I remember deciding that it was a family of deaf people who could only afford one hearing aid that they were sharing. But no! It was an early transistor radio and they were listening to Vin Scully, something that became normal in the years that followed. Scully’s power was there from the very beginning.

James Landon of Apache Junction, Ariz.: I was 15-years-old when my Dad took me on a baseball trip to New York in the summer of 1952. Our stops included Cooperstown, Yankee Stadium and Ebbets Field (no Polo Grounds, since I hated the Giants). Ebbets Field was the highlight of the trip because the Dodgers were my favorite team. I’ll never forget that first site as we came out of the walkway. Here were all of my favorite players warming up in their sparkling clean white uniforms on the greenest grass I had ever seen. Funny, I can’t remember if the Dodgers won that day or even who they were playing.

These names look familiar

What players on the 2019 Dodgers are doing this season with other teams (through Sunday’s games):

Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta, .338/.400/.568, 150 OPS+

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Yimi Garcia, Miami, 3-0, 0.73 ERA, one save

Kyle Garlick, Philadelphia, .136/.174/.182, -4 OPS+ (on 10-day IL)

Jedd Gyorko, Milwaukee, .272/.355/.554, 140 OPS+

Rich Hill, Minnesota, 2-2, 3.27 ERA

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Kenta Maeda, Minnesota, 5-1, 2.52 ERA

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Toronto, 4-2, 3.00 ERA

Casey Sadler, Seattle, 1-1, 1.17 ERA

Ross Stripling, Toronto, 0-2, 7.36 ERA

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Alex Verdugo, Boston, .328/.383/.511, 139 OPS+

Up next

Tuesday, Oakland (Frankie Montas) at Dodgers (Dustin May), 6:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Wednesday, Oakland (Sean Manaea*) at Dodgers (Julio Urías*), 6:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Thursday, Oakland (Mike Fiers) at Dodgers (TBD), 6:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

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*-Left-handed

In case you missed it

Dodgers know why Mookie Betts could be the NL MVP

It’s an alternate reality for these Dodgers working out every day at USC

Expanded playoffs beyond 2020? Inside the MLB push — and the pushback

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Dodgers reliever Caleb Ferguson set to undergo Tommy John surgery

And finally

In the movie “42", the “Do you think God likes baseball?” scene. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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