Daily Distractions: Why isn’t Chris Capuano on the Dodgers’ NLCS roster?

Chris Capuano

Chris Capuano walked three batters but didn’t allow a run in Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Braves, earning the victory in his only postseason appearance. (Associated Press photo)

Five days ago, Chris Capuano said he “really had no idea” that he was going to be on the Dodgers’ roster for the National League Division Series.

“You have Carlos Marmol who’s just throwing the ball fantastic, you’ve got Brandon League, you’ve got Edinson Volquez, you’ve got some real power arms,” Capuano said. “It was exciting for me to have a chance to contribute.”

At the time, Capuano reeked of false modesty. He had just pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lasted just three innings in his MLB postseason debut. The veteran left-hander is the only pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw to win a game for the Dodgers this postseason. He validated manager Don Mattingly‘s faith in Capuano and his health — he missed three weeks in September with a strained groin — and seemed to have earned his keep as a long reliever for any similar situations in the National League Championship Series.

Why, then, was Capuano left off the Dodgers’ NLCS roster Friday morning?
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Dodgers announce National League Championship Series roster.

Right-handed pitchers Edinson Volquez and Carlos Marmol are replacing left-handers Paco Rodriguez and Chris Capuano on the Dodgers’ roster for the National League Championship Series, submitted to the league this morning.

Here are the 11 pitchers and 14 position players on the roster:

Pitchers (11)                                                    Position Players (14)

RHP Ronald Belisario                                   OF Carl Crawford

RHP Zack Greinke                                         C A.J. Ellis

LHP J.P. Howell                                             2B Mark Ellis

RHP Kenley Jansen                                      OF Andre Ethier

LHP Clayton Kershaw                                   C Tim Federowicz

RHP Carlos Marmol                                        1B Adrian Gonzalez

RHP Ricky Nolasco                                       IF Dee Gordon

LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu                                           OF Yasiel Puig

RHP Edinson Volquez                                     IF Nick Punto

RHP Brian Wilson                                          SS Hanley Ramirez

RHP Chris Withrow                                        IF/OF Skip Schumaker

                                                                         3B Juan Uribe

                                                                          IF/OF Scott Van Slyke
                                                                          IF Michael Young

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Dodgers announce their National League Division Series roster.

Paco Rodriguez

Left-handed pitcher Paco Rodriguez and right-hander Ronald Belisario (right) are both on the Dodgers’ roster for the National League Division Series (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff photographer)


Andre Ethier will be on the Dodgers’ active roster for the National League Division Series, the team announced today. So will speedster Dee Gordon and rookie outfielder Scott Van Slyke.

However, utility player Jerry Hairston Jr., pitchers Carlos Marmol, Brandon League and Edinson Volquez won’t be available when the Dodgers begin play tonight in the best-of-five series against the Atlanta Braves.

The availability of Ethier, who injured his lower left leg (including the Achilles heel, ankle and shin) in early September, has been in jeopardy for weeks. Even Wednesday, he was seen limping onto the field for a team workout. He will likely be limited to pinch-hitting duties while Skip Schumaker assumes the starting center fielder’s job.

Conversely, Gordon will likely be limited to pinch-running duties. He’s been taking reps in center field, as has Van Slyke, who gives the Dodgers some power (.803 OPS in 53 regular-season games) off the bench.

The absence of Hairston isn’t a big surprise. He batted .143, with one home run in 42 games, after the All-Star break. A back injury had also been bothering him recently.

A bigger surprise was the inclusion of Chris Capuano, who started 20 games in the regular season, as a left-handed relief pitcher. Ricky Nolasco was chosen over Capuano and Volquez to start Game 4, and Volquez had pitched consistently in a fifth starter’s role while Capuano missed three weeks in September with a strained left groin. The Dodgers already have two left-handers in the bullpen, J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez, though Rodriguez has struggled with his control in September.

Still, Capuano didn’t allow a run in three September relief appearances. His final start of August was stellar (7 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K’s against the San Diego Padres), and his experience at age 35 might have played to his advantage.

Right-handers Marmol and League have experience too, and had to be among the toughest decisions for manager Don Mattingly. Marmol went 0-0 with a 2.53 ERA in 21 relief appearances after being acquired in a midseason trade with the Chicago Cubs.

League, signed to a four-year, $27.5 million deal last fall that made him the Dodgers’ highest-paid reliever, struggled mightily in August and September. He allowed 25 hits in 19 appearances the last two months, including three that left the park. League also has no postseason experience.

The Dodgers’ complete roster (the Atlanta Braves’ roster can be found here):
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With Brian Wilson close, Carlos Marmol gives Dodgers something to think about.

Carlos Marmol

Carlos Marmol hasn’t allowed a run in his last six appearances with the Dodgers. (Getty Images)

Carlos Marmol was among the Dodgers’ unsung heroes of Wednesday night’s come from behind, 12th inning walk-off win over the New York Mets. That’s quite a role reversal for the former Cubs closer.

In the final year of a three-year, $20 million contract, Marmol blew three of his five save opportunities in Chicago this season, racked up a 5.86 earned-run average and earned a trade to the Dodgers. Things didn’t go much smoother in Marmol’s first two appearances with his new team, when he allowed four runs.

But Marmol’s last six appearances have been scoreless, and none were more important than Wednesday’s.
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Daily Distractions: Maybe the Dodgers don’t need to make any trades.

Dodgers Red Sox trade

Last year it was Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto. Who will be on a plane to Los Angeles this year?

OK. Time for some numbers.

In July, the Dodgers’ pitching staff has been among the best in the National League in terms of ERA, fielding-independnt pitching (FIP) and batting average against, and they’re getting more run support.

Throw in their MLB-best 18-5 record this month, and the Dodgers look like baseball’s least likely team to acquire a major-league player at the trade deadline. There aren’t any bombshells on the horizon this year, unlike a year ago, when Dodger Stadium was hailing firebombs full of big-name acquisitions.

There is usually room for at least a minor upgrade, of course, and general manager Ned Colletti has mentioned the bullpen as a possible area for improvement. While Carlos Marmol has underwhelmed since becoming a Dodger, number-five starter Stephen Fife can return from his rehab assignment this weekend (his turn comes around Saturday), meaning incumbent number-five starter Chris Capuano could go to the bullpen as a long reliever. That could be the upgrade Colletti aims for.

The Atlanta Braves took one veteran reliever off the market Monday morning, acquiring Scott Downs from the Angels. Other contenders are in the market for relievers too, teams that are probably more hungry for relief pitching than the Dodgers.

For now, at least. Like last year, the horizon is farther away than it looks. The Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett/Nick Punto trade didn’t go down until August 25 of last year. Joe Blanton became a Dodger on August 3.

Inevitably, some deals are being discussed right now that will fizzle, some will go down before 1 p.m. Wednesday, and others won’t be consummated until August. So we won’t really know what team the Dodgers are taking into September until September, though it will probably look a lot like this one.

Some bullet points for a Global Tiger Day:
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