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Dodgers NLDS roster decisions down to final few spots

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Colorado Rockies Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers have essentially made most of their decisions for their National League Division Series roster, down to just the final one or two spots. Not that they are ready to reveal said roster just yet.

There are perfectly valid reasons for waiting to share their roster choices. For one, the rosters aren’t due until Friday morning, the day of Game 1, and a lot can happen in the few days in between.

Also, the Dodgers don’t yet know their opponent. That will be decided on Wednesday night with the National League Wild Card Game between the Rockies and Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix.

“We’re pretty much locked in. It’s just that 24th or 25th spot,” manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday. “It’s the quandary or challenge that you have when you have a lot of good players.

One of those good players is Luis Avilan, who is dealing with soreness in his left shoulder, and won’t be available in the NLDS. Avilan threw a bullpen session on Tuesday, and will throw another one on Friday, and could potentially be activated for the NLCS should the Dodgers advance.

“There wasn’t one particular throw that made it inflamed,” Roberts said. “It has dissipated in the last few days.”

Avilan didn’t need an injection in his shoulder, and has taken anti-inflammatory medication. He hasn’t pitched since Sept. 21.

Without Avilan, the Dodgers don’t have many options for a third left-hander in the bullpen behind Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani.

Edward Paredes is not under consideration for the NLDS roster, Roberts said, and Hyun-jin Ryu has pitched just one career game in relief.

“He’s uncomfortable in that role, having only done it once,” Roberts said. “With Ryu, he’s either going to be on as a starter, or not on the roster.”

That basically leaves Alex Wood as the only other option for a third left-handed reliever. But he might have the inside track as the fourth starter.

“The potential for three lefties gives us a little more flexibility with how we use our pen,” Roberts said. “But now with where we’re at, we’re still not set on carrying seven or eight relievers, or five or six guys on the bench.”

A right-handed relief pitcher who could find his way on to the roster is Pedro Baez, who after his September collapse has pitched 4 scoreless innings, striking out seven of his last 17 batters faced.

"I'm definitely confident he's worked out his issues. It was a tough stretch for Pedro, but he’s had four scoreless outings in a row, and he’s throwing the ball well. We’re still not sure 100%, and haven’t made that decision yet,” Roberts said. “But when you look at the entire body of work, and the last 10 days he’s throwing the baseball really well.”

One of those bench spots could go to rookie Tim Locastro, whose big league experience consists of an unexpected final-weekend call up. His role would be as a pinch runner (more on Locastro later).

“Probably a guy who can pinch run makes more sense in a shorter series,” Roberts said. “You can argue that you don’t need eight guys in the pen with the off days and the short series.”

Left-handed bench bat

Given their performance and how they were used in September, the idea that Andre Ethier would be left off the NLDS roster in favor of Joc Pederson would be considered quite a surprise. But Roberts wouldn’t commit to either, or Ethier on Tuesday.

“We still like the quality when he gets in the box, and [Ethier’s] done it over the last couple years of his career,” Roberts said. “To say definitively that he’s on the roster, we’re not going to do that.”

Ethier hit .235/.316/.441 with a pair of home runs and a double in September after missing the first five months of the season with a back injury. Pederson was sent to the minors after a 2-for-41 slump in August, and he returned to hit .182/.357/.273 in September, going 4-for-22 with six walks and two doubles, the latter coming on the final day of the season.

“[Joc’s] done some good things. He can obviously help us in a lot of different ways. He can play defense, could be a bat off the bench, and can run,” Roberts said. “The role would be be a left-handed bat off the bench, but we haven’t made that decision if he’s going to be on the 25 yet.”

The Dodgers will hold workouts at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday evening.