The rosters for the division series don't need to be turned in until 10am on Wednesday, but here's a look at the likely Dodger NLDS active roster. Keep in mind, this is what I think the Dodgers will do, not necessarily what I would want them to do.
|NLDS: Cardinals vs.|
|Game 1||Wed||Dodger Stadium
|Game 2||Thu||Dodger Stadium||likely 3:07pm|
|Game 3||Sat||Busch Stadium||3:07pm|
|Game 4*||Sun||Busch Stadium||TBD|
|*if necessary||All times Pacific|
|All games televised on TBS|
First, the locks:
That leaves five spots:
Lefty Pinch-Hitter (1)
Jim Thome has struggled as a pinch hitter, both this season and in his career. He has four singles in 17 at-bats as a Dodger. He can't run, because he's slow and because he has a bad foot. He can't play first base, because of chronic back problems. Yet I believe he will make the roster over Doug Mientkiewicz, simply because Thome represents the threat of power, something lacking on the Dodger bench. Mientkiewicz would be a fine choice for a spot, especially if his shoulder is healed enough to play first base if needed, and in fact I would take him over Loretta, but I don't think that will happen.
Starting Pitchers (2)
Three guys are fighting for two spots, to start games three and four. Joe Torre hasn't officially named his starters for those games yet, but based on other comments he has made, I believe Chad Billingsley will start game three as long as he gets through his simulated game today in Arizona without any problems. That leaves Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland fighting for the other two spots. Padilla has pitched better of late, but over the course of the season, they were pretty similar pitchers (4.46 FIP for Padilla, 4.48 for Garland). I believe Padilla will be the choice to start Sunday in St. Louis.
Relief Pitchers (2)
I think Garland gets the nod as the long man in the pen, leaving Jeff Weaver out in the cold. That leaves one more bullpen spot, which I think will go to James McDonald, over Guillermo Mota and Scott Elbert. McDonald had a good season as a reliever, after a shaky start in the rotation, posting a 2.72 ERA and a 3.41 FIP from the bullpen. Over the last two months, McDonald has passed Mota on the depth chart, even when Mota was fully healthy. The other viable option is Elbert, because the Cardinals struggle so much against left-handed pitchers. However, the Cardinals really only have three lefty batters: Skip Schumaker, Colby Rasmus, and Rick Ankiel. Their struggles with southpaws are largely due to their right handers failing to hit them (hitting .244/.328/.392), and I don't think Torre would use Elbert to face a righty, regardless of how they hit lefties. If the Dodgers were facing the Phillies, Elbert would have been more likely to make the roster, simply because they have more left handed batters Elbert could face in a LOOGY situation.
That's my prediction for the NLDS roster. What's yours?