SAN FRANCISCO — The regular season is over, and the Giants are three wins richer for having played the Dodgers over the weekend. They’ll play the Mets in a wild card game Wednesday, the winner earning the right to be fed to the Chicago Cubs.
For the Dodgers, well, you have to feel for manager Dave Roberts. He said Sunday morning that there were still National League Division Series roster spots to be determined. Then the Dodgers went out and laid a 7-1 egg, on the heels of a 3-0 egg Saturday and a 9-3 egg Friday. Lots of eggs, not a lot of wins. Roster spots: Who wants one?
Friday we took a stab at guessing the Dodgers’ 25-man roster. Here’s a revised estimate; teams must have this finalized and to the league by 10 a.m. Friday.
No changes here, either.
Roberts confirmed Ethier was in on Sunday.
Kiké Hernandez played himself out of a spot here. Even he would admit that his performance at the plate in September and October — a .586 OPS in 47 plate appearances — fell short of his capability. He finished the season with a .190 batting average after batting .307 last year. One major league scout who saw Hernandez extensively the last two years believes the 2015 version was closer to the real thing. This year, for whatever reason, Hernandez started chasing pitches he shouldn’t have and never stopped. Even if it isn’t unreasonable to expect more in 2017, this isn’t about 2017. It’s about right now.
Right now, Culberson is the Dodgers’ best right-handed hitting option off the bench. He batted .375 in the season’s final month, with a memorable home run in the division-clinching game last Sunday. It’s not as if Roberts has a ton of options here. Besides Hernandez (.190/.277/.310 in September/October), there’s Austin Barnes (.222/.364/.222), Rob Segedin (.167/.286/.292) and even Kendrick (.190/.277/.226) who have done almost nothing to grab a job.
Culberson doesn’t have Hernandez’s versatility on defense, but with six outfielders on our hypothetical roster, that’s OK. He can fill in at third base, shortstop and second base, and that should be good enough.
Roberts already confirmed his starters for the first three games.
Brandon McCarthy wasted his final bullet Saturday, when he faced six batters without recording an out in a close game. That opened the door for Stripling, who’s been solid but not spectacular all season long. The rookie appeared in 22 games (14) starts pitching exactly 100 innings to a 98 ERA-plus. Not bad at all for a rookie who missed most of last year recovering from Tommy John surgery. His 2.22 ERA as a reliever doesn’t just make him ideal for the long-man role, it could be a prelude into his role on the 2017 club. But again, this isn’t about 2017.