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Scott Alexander gets final bullpen spot as Dodgers finalize opening day roster

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Alexander gives Dodgers bullpen three left-handers

MLB: AUG 27 Dodgers at Giants - Game 2 Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dodgers only had one roster decision left, and on Tuesday they chose left over right to complete their opening day roster. Southpaw Scott Alexander will be in the bullpen when the Dodgers start their 2021 season on Thursday afternoon against the Rockies at Coors Field in Denver.

Alexander had a 4.70 ERA in his eight games this spring, striking out four while hitting two batters. His main competition was right-hander Dennis Santana, who posted a 4.32 ERA in his eight Cactus League games, striking out 10 while allowing a pair of home runs. Santana will instead will be optioned.

“It was a very, very difficult decision. We thought Dennis had a great spring, and really impressed with his progress, command, all that stuff,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s just more of a numbers game. We felt right now Scott has earned that roster spot.”

Alexander pitched Monday night, and Santana is expected to pitch Tuesday, though not literally for a job.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily all on spring training. History, it’s kind of all put together,” Roberts said Monday. “It’s not necessarily a tryout anymore.”

Alexander gives the Dodgers three left-handed pitchers in the bullpen, along with Victor Gonzalez and David Price, the latter less a situational southpaw and more of a multi-inning weapon. But perhaps more importantly, Alexander gives the Dodgers another sinker specialist at Coors Field, his 69-percent ground ball rate ranking second in the majors over the last three years, more than double that of Santana (33.3 percent).

Santana, even though he didn’t make the team, will travel with the Dodgers on their opening road trip as part of the taxi squad that is allowed on road trips per MLB health and safety protocols. Also on the taxi squad are catcher Keibert Ruiz, pitcher Garrett Cleavinger, outfielder DJ Peters, and one other player. Players on the taxi squad don’t get major league service time and will be paid at their minor league salary, but they do receive the major league per diem of $110 for each day of the road trip.

The starting rotation was finalized on Monday, with Clayton Kershaw making his ninth opening day start on Thursday in Denver, followed by Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler, and Julio Urías against the Rockies, then Dustin May to open the series in Oakland next Monday.

Zach McKinstry, who made his major league debut last season, is on his first opening day roster as a multi-positional utility man. It’s the second opening day roster for Edwin Ríos and Matt Beaty, but will be their first in front of fans. The Dodgers will carry 13 position players and 13 pitchers to open the year.

Dodgers 2021 opening day roster

Starters Bullpen Catchers Infielders Outfielders IF/OF
Starters Bullpen Catchers Infielders Outfielders IF/OF
Clayton Kershaw (L) Kenley Jansen Will Smith Max Muncy (L) Mookie Betts Cody Bellinger (L)
Trevor Bauer Blake Treinen Austin Barnes Gavin Lux (L) AJ Pollock Chris Taylor
Walker Buehler Corey Knebel Corey Seager (L) Matt Beaty (L)
Julio Urías (L) Victor Gonzalez (L) Justin Turner Zach McKinstry (L)
Dustin May Jimmy Nelson Edwin Ríos (L)
David Price (L)
Tony Gonsolin
Scott Alexander (L)