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Dodgers NLCS roster: Luis Avilan a likely addition in the next round

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MLB: San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — The Dodgers find themselves in the same situation in preparation for the NLCS that they were in for the NLDS, with four off days before the start of the series, and waiting on their opponent.

Rosters for the NLCS are due on Saturday, the morning of Game 1. I don’t expect many changes, though a likely addition will be Luis Avilan, who was held out of the first round with left shoulder inflammation.

Avilan pitched a pair of simulated games last week, then again on Sunday in preparation for possible addition to the roster for the NLCS. Avilan will pitch again on Wednesday.

“He's on track. He feels good,” manager Dave Roberts said on Sunday. “When we get to that point, he definitely will be in the mix.”

The Dodgers still don’t know their opponent, with the Nationals and Cubs battling each other — and mold, apparently — in the other NLDS. Game 4 is Wednesday afternoon, with the Cubs leading the series, 2-1. But a third left-handed relief pitcher like Avilan — who held left-handed batters to .195/.290/.280 in 2017 — would be useful against either team.

Cubs

Anthony Rizzo is good against either hand and doesn’t have discernible splits in 2017, though in his career is worse against lefties (.250/.353/.439) than righties (.275/.374/.506).

Fellow left-handers Jason Heyward (.267/.292/.391) and Kyle Schwarber (.171/.306/.341) both struggled against southpaws in 2017. Switch-hitter Ben Zobrist hit just .171/.261/.292 batting right-handed this season, compared to .249/.336/.401 batting lefty.

Jon Jay in his career has a power dip against left-handers (.353 slugging percentage) compared to right-handers (.392), but also hit very well against lefties this season (.318/.410/.341).

Versus Avilan
Rizzo: 2-for-6 (.333), strikeout
Jay: 0-for-4, 2 strikeouts
Heyward: 0-for-2, strikeout
Zobrist: 1-for-1, walk
Schwarber: 0-for-1, strikeout

Nationals

The two main left-handed bats for the Nationals are Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. Both hit well against left-handers, but not as well as they hit right-handers. Harper this season hit .311/.357/.445 against lefties and .322/.433/.654 versus righties. Murphy hit .291/.343/.480 against southpaws and .332/.397/.563 against right-handers.

Adam Lind is Washington’s main pinch hitter, and hit .310/.344/.345 against left-handed pitchers in 2017, compared to .303/.364/.534 against righties.

There is also switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters, who has been terrible at the plate overall in 2017, hitting just .223/.286/.341, though he actually hit better as a right-handed batter (.244/.302/.385) than as a lefty (.218/.282/.331).

Versus Avilan
Murphy: 7-for-20 (.350), double, 2 strikeouts, HBP
Harper: 2-for-12 (.167), 4 walks, 5 strikeouts, HBP
Lind: 0-for-1, walk
Wieters: 1-for-1, home run (in 2015)

Who does Avilan replace?

In the NLDS, the Dodgers used 22 players on their 25-man roster. Alex Wood was slated to start Game 4 but the series didn’t get that far. Relief pitchers Pedro Baez and Ross Stripling also did not pitch, so look for Avilan — if added — to replace one of those two.

For what it’s worth, Roberts mentioned that the final NLDS roster spot was down to Baez and pinch-runner Tim Locastro, so I’m picking Baez as the pitcher replaced by Avilan for the NLCS.

Dodgers NLCS roster guess

Starters (4) Bullpen (8) Catchers (3) Infielders (5) Outfielders (5)
Starters (4) Bullpen (8) Catchers (3) Infielders (5) Outfielders (5)
Clayton Kershaw Kenley Jansen Yasmani Grandal Cody Bellinger Yasiel Puig
Yu Darvish Brandon Morrow Austin Barnes Logan Forsythe Chris Taylor
Rich Hill Kenta Maeda Kyle Farmer Corey Seager Curtis Granderson
Alex Wood Tony Watson lhp Justin Turner Kiké Hernandez
Tony Cingrani lhp Chase Utley Andre Ethier
Josh Fields
Luis Avilan lhp
Ross Stripling