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Andre Ethier set for bigger role in NLCS, could affect Dodgers roster

Ethier's return to the outfield for the first time since Sept. 13 will likely come at some point during the NLCS, but exactly when is still up in the air.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Ethier didn't play in the field at all during the NLDS, but figures to return to center field at some point for the Dodgers during the NLCS against the Cardinals. How his left ankle heals, and feels, will go a long way in determining any roster changes made by the Dodgers heading into St. Louis.

Rosters for the NLCS are due by 8 a.m. PT on Friday morning, the day of Game 1.

Manager Don Mattingly said before Wednesday's workout at Dodger Stadium that Ethier, who was limited to four pinch hitting appearances in four games against the Braves, will have a greater role against the Cardinals.

"We feel pretty good that he's going to be able to do more than the last series. There will be a lot more scenarios that Andre's going to be involved," Mattingly said. "That's part of our decision-making process too is how much can Andre do, how much can we trust him to do. Things like that change who you would keep and who you wouldn't keep. Things at this point are pretty fluid."

Ethier worked out with the Dodgers on Wednesday, including taking fly balls in center field, and will do so again on Thursday.

"We tried it out today, we're going to try it out again tomorrow, and if it feels good we'll be in a better spot than we are right now and make a decision come Friday," Ethier told reporters after Wednesday's workout, per Dodger Talk co-host David Vassegh.

Both Scott Van Slyke and Dee Gordon only appeared in one game each in the NLDS against Atlanta, each as a pinch runner. The more Ethier is able to play the outfield, the more in jeopardy one of those roster spots could be.

There are two scheduled off days in the NLCS — Sunday and Thursday next week — which is the same as the NLDS. But this round has seven games in nine days compared to five games in seven days, potentially more taxing for the pitching staff as a whole.

As a result, I think the Dodgers will add a 12th pitcher for the NLCS, meaning either Carlos Marmol, Edinson Volquez or Brandon League.

"We're talking about a lot of different options," Mattingly said on Wednesday.

Despite the relative struggles recently for Paco Rodriguez and Ronald Belisario, I find it hard to believe their roster spots are in danger, not after Mattingly relied on both all season.

If I had to guess, I think the only difference between NLDS and NLCS rosters will be Volquez replacing Gordon, but something like Marmol replacing Van Slyke or any combination of the players discussed above wouldn't surprise me.