Chris Taylor determined to play in NLDS; Dodgers mulling playoff pitching staff
The only playoff baseball at Dodger Stadium on Friday was played on the televisions in the clubhouse and the scoreboards in the outfield.
While eight other teams opened their best-of-three wild card series, the Dodgers were one of four clubs that earned a bye straight into next week’s Division Series — and, as a result, had five days to kill before beginning their postseason campaign Tuesday.
“You can look at it from both sides, where you need the rest but you also don’t want to lose a rhythm,” third baseman Max Muncy said. “I think for us, we lean more towards, we need the rest. ... It’s just a chance to kind of reset everything.”
Over the next couple of days, it will be the club’s coaching staff and front office that face the biggest task, working to finalize a 26-man roster that could still hinge on a couple of injured players.
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One of those players, outfielder Chris Taylor, reiterated on Friday that he feels 100% confident he will be healthy for the NLDS, with his neck stiffness continuing to improve after he received a cortisone shot this week.
Taylor didn’t participate in the Dodgers’ sim game Friday but did go through drills in the batting cage and out on the field earlier in the afternoon.
Manager Dave Roberts said Taylor is on track to take live at-bats on Sunday and Monday.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman added that, if it all goes well, it “will put him in good position” to be available for the NLDS.
After Taylor, the only other roster battle among the position players seems to be between veteran utility player Hanser Alberto and rookie slugger Miguel Vargas, who homered halfway up the left-field pavilion in Friday’s exhibition.
Treinen is scheduled to pitch an inning in the team’s intrasquad game Saturday. May will throw two innings Sunday.
For Treinen, the question will be how well he bounces back physically from his outing, as the right-hander still needs to show his shoulder is healthy enough to handle multiple appearances in a best-of-five series.
May’s evaluation will be based more on his execution and mechanics. Though Roberts said the pitcher’s back feels normal again, May still has to clean up some of the inconsistencies that plagued him before the injury in order to cement an NLDS roster spot.
If May and/or Treinen aren’t ready for the NLDS, it could open the door to others on the pitching staff to make the roster.
Former closer Craig Kimbrel is still not a guarantee, Friedman confirmed, after the right-hander finished the season with a 3.75 ERA that ranked second-worst in the Dodgers bullpen.
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Left-handers Caleb Ferguson and David Price also appear to be on the roster bubble, beckoning as options if the Dodgers feel the need for more southpaws in the bullpen.
The order of the starting rotation is still unknown too — publicly, at least.
However, Roberts said the team still wasn’t ready to publicly announce it.
“I’m not trying to be too coy,” Roberts said. “We just want to hold it a little bit longer.”
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Roberts noted that whichever game Gonsolin pitches will effectively be a bullpen game for the Dodgers, with the right-hander still limited to only four innings after recently returning from a forearm strain.
“Some of that depends on what happens in Game 1 and Game 2,” Roberts said, “just to kind of see what’s at our disposal.”
Still, with Tuesday’s NLDS opener on the horizon, Friedman projected confidence in the depth of the team’s pitching staff — and their chances of making a deep playoff run following a 111-win regular season.
“It’s a really, really talented group that is well-positioned to do everything we can to go out and win 11 games,” he said. “Win the championship.”
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