LOS ANGELES — You want spots on a postseason roster, by any reasonable measure, to be earned and not given.
And, truly, a number of Dodgers hitters have heated up in this latter stretch of the season – hello, Jason Heyward – to make their cases for a spot on the Dodgers’ final roster heading into the start of their best-of-five National League Division Series on Oct. 7. But with the team’s starting rotation, currently held together by an aging Clayton Kershaw here and a rookie there and a reliable-but-patchwork carousel of openers, Roberts has less leeway to be picky.
“With the pitching, I think sort of by performance (and) by default, it’s becoming pretty clear as well,” Roberts said Monday of the plans for the postseason roster. “But there’s still going to be some tougher conversations that we still have time to evaluate.”
Kershaw, of course, is a lock to take the ball for a game if healthy, despite somewhat-ominous velocity issues that have nagged him in recent starts. Bobby Miller already has been tabbed for a start in one of the Dodgers’ first two postseason games, on the heels of a standout rookie season in which he has posted a 10-3 record and a 4.02 ERA.
But with Tony Gonsolin out for the year and Julio Urias on administrative leave as the MLB investigates allegations of domestic violence, the other potential starters in the Dodgers’ playoff arsenal might be a toss-a-dart-at-a-board situation. Some options, and pregame updates on each before the Dodgers’ tilt with the Detroit Tigers on Monday night:
Lance Lynn: It would seem to be a no-doubter here, given his All-Star and innings-eater pedigree, but Lynn has been wildly inconsistent and homer-prone all season and that has not changed since the Dodgers acquired him from the Chicago White Sox at the trade deadline. When asked what Lynn needed to show in his start on Monday to earn postseason confidence, Roberts said “we need to see a little bit more out of the gate” from the 36-year-old righty.
Ryan Pepiot: The 25-year-old has vacillated between starter and opener in five appearances this season, but he has largely impressed Roberts with his “high-velocity fastball,” as the manager said, en route to 22 strikeouts against just two walks.
“Ryan is certainly right there in the mix,” Roberts said Monday.
Michael Grove: It seems unlikely that Grove would get a postseason look, coming off an extended absence due to right lat tightness and a 6.61 ERA when he has pitched this season. But he’s expected back at some point Saturday or Sunday, Roberts said, and he could end up getting a look before the regular season is out.
Roberts said Monday it was possible but a “longer shot” that right-handed reliever Yency Almonte, out since mid-August with a right knee injury, would make a return before the end of the regular season.
“I think the main thing for Yency is, just get healthy,” Roberts said.
Before the Dodgers took the field against the Tigers on Monday night, Brudasal Graterol, Miguel Rojas, David Peralta and J.D. Martinez came to home plate to honor longtime Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera, who has said he plans to retire at the end of this season.
The Dodgers presented Cabrera, the all-time leader in hits by a Venezuelan-born player, with a custom plaque of a Hollywood star inscribed with his name. Graterol, Rojas and Peralta were all born in Venezuela, and Martinez played with Cabrera on the Tigers from 2014-17.
Dodgers keep rolling with victory against Mariners
Dodgers rest Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman a day after securing NL West title
Dodgers win 10th NL West title in 11 years by outlasting Mariners
Dodgers prepare Clayton Kershaw for postseason run
Dodgers on cusp of NL West title after beating Mariners