Rosters are due for the National League wild card game on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. in Los Angeles, and with the Dodgers and Cardinals only needing to prepare for one game and not a series, the makeup of the team might look different than an ordinary game.
Walker Buehler won’t be on the Dodgers’ active roster after throwing 79 pitches in five innings on Sunday, manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday. Instead, Buehler will start Friday’s Game 1 of the NLDS in San Francisco should the Dodgers advance. Julio Urías will start Game 2 on Saturday if the Dodgers get that far, and the left-hander could even be used in relief against the Cardinals.
“Obviously, he threw on Saturday, but having him potentially be in there, we’re seriously considering that,” Roberts said. “But when you’re talking about one game, there’s really not the need for length essentially because you have so many arms at your disposal.”
Urías threw 92 pitches in 6⅓ innings last Saturday, winning his 20th game of the season. He’d be on six days rest in Game 2 of the NLDS if he doesn’t pitch Wednesday. But Urías will likely be one of perhaps 10 pitchers on the active roster for the wild card game.
“Playing on Sunday, having everyone available for tomorrow, there won’t be a cost if we come out of this game for usage as far as guys in the pen,” Roberts said Tuesday.
The Dodgers used 11 pitchers in a game once in the regular season, an 11-inning loss to the Giants on September 3. They used exactly 10 pitchers twice, including a 16-inning win in San Diego on August 25.
If the Dodgers carry 10 pitchers on Wednesday, Mitch White and Andre Jackson will likely not be among them, as they pitched to Dodgers hitters during Tuesday’s workout at Dodger Stadium.
A 10-pitcher roster leaves 16 spots for position players, which almost maxes out the remaining healthy players on the 40-man roster. The Dodgers ended the regular season with 13 position players, and with Max Muncy unavailable with his dislocated left elbow, that leaves 12.
Present at the Dodgers workout on Tuesday were Zach McKinstry, Luke Raley, and Billy McKinney, the latter mentioned by Roberts as a potential option at first base. None ended the season on the active roster, but all are on the 40-man roster.
Steven Souza Jr. is not on the 40-man roster, but was also at Tuesday’s workout. The veteran outfielder had two stints on the Dodgers’ active roster this season. The Dodgers do currently have an open spot on the 40-man roster.
If those four players are added to the current mix, that would make 16 position players.
What the Dodgers’ don’t have is a designated pinch runner, a speed demon to call upon late in the game if needed. They had Terrance Gore last year in both the wild card series and NLDS, but didn’t appear in any of the five games for which he was active. Then-rookie Tim Locastro was mulled as a potential postseason designated runner in 2017, but he ended up not getting added.
“With our roster, pinch-running for guys doesn’t make as much sense because you’ve also got to replace that guy that you run for,” Roberts explained. “Obviously, Albert [Pujols is] a guy that — if we deploy him and he gets on base — that certainly makes sense, but we don’t have that guy.”
We’ll find out what guys the Dodgers do have on the roster on Wednesday morning.