LOS ANGELES — The rosters for the National League Division Series don’t have to be turned in to MLB until Friday morning at 7 a.m. PT, but the Dodgers’ 25-man roster against the Nationals has been set.
The Dodgers will carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers.
Among the Dodgers making the active squad include catcher Austin Barnes, infielder and walk-off division clincher Charlie Culberson, and relievers Josh Fields and Luis Avilan.
Kiké Hernandez and Alex Wood did not make the roster.
Hernandez was used as one of the Dodgers’ key weapons against left-handed pitching all season. But he hit just .190/.283/.324 overall in 2016, and one year after being literally the best hitter in baseball against southpaws (.423/.471/.744 with 15 extra-base hits in 87 plate appearances), Hernandez hit just .189/.308/.361 against lefties this season.
"He's a very dynamic player but didn't have the year he would have liked to have had,” manager Dave Roberts said. "I just wanted to see the at-bat quality a little bit better in this last month. We just felt that to get him away from it a little bit, to reset and get his swing back and potentially be ready for the NLDS.”
Hernandez will be among a slew of Dodgers players not on the NLDS roster headed to Arizona to work out and play simulated games to stay sharp in case of possible addition in the NLCS or World Series, should the Dodgers advance.
Hernandez started all 37 games against left-handed pitchers when he was on the active roster, until the final two days of the season in San Francisco.
“For me it was more continuing to give him opportunities to find it,” Roberts explained. “There was a point I felt like we had to give other guys who potentially could be playing in the NLDS to keep playing, keep their legs, and keep their timing.”
Without Hernandez, the Dodgers will likely start a left-handed batter somewhere in the outfield against Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, whether it is Joc Pederson remaining in center field, or maybe Yasiel Puig in center with Josh Reddick in right.
It also means Carlos Ruiz will get more pinch-hitting opportunities against left-handed pitchers, and adding Barnes means the Dodgers don’t have to burn their only backup catcher to do so. Barnes also plays second and third base in addition to catching.
"His versatility certainly plays into it. He's got some foot speed relative to catchers,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “But it also frees up Chooch, for potential big spots against their left-handed relievers. Overall, it helped complete our roster.”
"With Ruiz, just his ability to hit left-handed pitching, and I trust him. We can also use Barnes to pinch run for Yasmani,” Roberts said. “[Barnes] can pinch hit right-handed, and play multiple positions. He has a lot of versatility.”
The Dodgers chose to go with two lefties in the bullpen instead of three, hence the addition of Fields, and Avilan beat out Wood for the second lefty spot behind Grant Dayton, liking the way Avilan matched up against Washington’s hitters.
"There's performance and there are also matchups,” Roberts said. “With two left-handed starters, having two left-handed relieves made sense for our roster."
Wood had arthroscopic elbow debridement surgery on July 20, and was activated two months later. He pitched four games in relief over the final two weeks, all scoreless innings with four total strikeouts.
"He worked extremely hard to get back. He pitched well, his stuff was back,” Friedman said. “He did everything he could to put himself into position, and hopefully when we get together for next round he'll feature prominently in those discussions.
"His focus on getting back was incredible, and very much noticed by everybody."
Wood will travel with the team to Washington D.C., as will Brock Stewart and Rob Segedin, as well as reliever J.P Howell. None made the roster, but could be used in the event of an injury. Plus, the roster doesn’t actually get submitted until Friday morning, so something could happen between now and then.
Howell, in his fourth season with the Dodgers, pitched in the playoffs the last three years, and also pitched for Freidman’s Rays from 2007-2012, pitching in two playoff runs with Tampa Bay.
"It was incredibly difficult [to leave Howell off the roster],” Friedman said. “He's been a big part of what we've done this year, and not just between the lines. He's been a huge part of the success of our bullpen with his mentorship. As everyone would expect, he handled it like a total pro, but still it was not easy.”
The Dodgers have not announced a Game 4 starter yet, but it will be a decision between whether Clayton Kershaw pitches on short rest after Game 1 or if Julio Urias gets the call. More on that decision later.
Here is the full Dodgers 25-man NLDS roster:
Starting pitchers (4): Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias
Relief pitchers (7): Kenley Jansen, Joe Blanton, Grant Dayton, Pedro Baez, Josh Fields, Luis Avilan, Ross Stripling
Catchers (3): Yasmani Grandal, Carlos Ruiz, Austin Barnes
Infielders (5): Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Charlie Culberson
Outfielders (6): Howie Kendrick, Joc Pederson, Josh Reddick, Yasiel Puig, Andrew Toles, Andre Ethier
"We put together the group of players we felt match up best against the Nationals,” Friedman said.