PHOENIX — The Dodgers are inching closer to their opening day roster, and Dave Roberts said Friday that the club will carry eight relief pitchers to open the season.
“That eighth spot, to really figure that one out, we’re still working through it,” Roberts said.
The club might be working through it but the pitching decisions appear close to finalized. When asked if his bullpen picture had cleared up Robert first mentioned J.T. Chargois, who was claimed off waivers from the Twins on Feb. 23.
“You look back at Chargois’s last three outings that’s been encouraging,” Roberts said.
Other locks to back closer Kenley Jansen appear to be Pedro Baez, Tony Cingrani, Ross Stripling and Josh Fields. The Dodgers are also high on Scott Alexander and his sinker, despite his five walks and four wild pitches in 7⅔ Cactus League innings.
|C||Grandal (S)||LF||Gordon (L)|
|2B||Utley (L)||2B||Goins (L)|
That is seven pitchers in the bullpen, and with the news that Pat Venditte is headed for Triple-A the final bullpen roster decision appears to be between Wilmer Font, who is out of options, and Yimi Garcia.
Garcia last pitched on Sunday, his only appearance in the last nine days, which counts a Friday in which he is not scheduled to pitch. Font hasn’t impressed much in Cactus League play with an 8.44 ERA and six walks in 10⅔ innings, but could be potential starting depth after winning PCL Pitcher of the Year honors in 2017 and leading the PCL in strikeouts.
Carrying eight relievers means a 13-man pitching staff, and that leaves only 12 roster spots for position players and a four-player bench.
There are 10 position player roster locks now that Justin Turner will open on the disabled list with a broken wrist — Yasmani Grandal, Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Logan Forsythe, Corey Seager, Kiké Hernandez, Chase Utley, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor and Matt Kemp.
In the battle for left-handed outfielder to complement Kemp, I had Andrew Toles as winning that battle especially after starting out camp on fire. But in a time when the team is getting regulars ready for opening day by playing them more often it is telling that Toles has not started a game since last Saturday. He has played in reserve in each of the four games since, totaling five plate appearances, and will come off the bench on Friday as well against the Royals in Surprise.
That could bode well for Joc Pederson, especially if Kemp plays more regularly than previously expected. Roberts has talked in recent days about Kemp getting more starts against right-handers. Toles might be more suited to playing nearly everyday as he works his way back from last year’s torn ACL.
The final roster spot comes down to Kyle Farmer, who has impressed this spring both at and behind the plate, and Trayce Thompson, who is out of options.
Dodgers at Royals
Location: Surprise Stadium
Time: 1:05 p.m. PT
Radio: none (Royals broadcast is available through MLB Gameday Audio)