In my previously written article on the postseason roster, it had Matt Kemp on the roster, but as of now, Kemp is out for the rest of the year. Tough year it has been for Kemp. So that means we have to revisit the postseason roster prediction once again. On the eve, the first game of the Dodgers-Braves series in Atlanta, this article will be a long one as I will go through the Dodgers roster and the Braves roster. So bear with me.
Dodgers Starting Lineup:
With Kemp out and Andre Ethier hurting, Ethier may only play in this series as a pinch hitter, Schumaker is the best man to man the center field more than Scott Van Slyke, Dee Gordon or Puig. Schumaker has started postseason games before during his time with the Cardinals, where he won two championship rings. The Dodgers will need Puig and Crawford more than ever now that Kemp is out and Ethier is limited. Ramirez and Gonzalez can’t do everything by themselves. Uribe is poised for a postseason run. He is always poised to make a big run every time he makes the playoffs. Ramirez and Gonzalez will be really hungry because their time is now to make it to the World Series. Plus, I have to think that neither Gonzalez or Ramirez have made the playoffs with their respected teams, maybe once, but it is hard to tell since the Padres and Marlins have losing records every year. There are tons of World Series experience on this roster more than the Braves have.
Braves Starting Lineup:
The Braves lineup is deep, but not as deep as the Dodgers lineup, which is missing Kemp and Ethier. The Braves have consistent hitters in Simmons and Johnson. Simmons is also a defense wizard and that makes Simmons dangerous. Heyward would return from his jaw injury will start over the consistent struggling B.J. Upton in center field. Chris Johnson, another consistent bat in the lineup, has been a Dodgers killer his entire career, dating back to when he first came up with the Houston Astros, when they were still in the NL. The power hitters are McCann, Freeman and Justin Upton. Upton out of the three is the least consistent of the group because when it comes to facing Upton, you are expecting either a home run or a strike out from him. It’s rare when you see him on the bases with a single or double. Don’t get me wrong, Upton is still a dangerous hitter, but I would rather face Upton over McCann and Freeman in a clutch situation.
The Dodgers bench is not the strongest, I will admit that, but the bench has held it together all season long and will continue to hold together through October. Fedex is already a shoo in with Punto and Young because Fedex is obviously the back up catcher, Punto has been consistent all year with his hustle and manager Don Mattingly would be crazy to leave the pony horse off. Young, along with Punto provide the postseason experience, especially the World Series as Punto has been there once and Young twice. Young, I’ll say this now, Young will be a huge contributor off the bench during the playoff run. Van Slyke will be sitting on the bench at the start of game 1 because with Kemp out, the team will be short a power hitter. I compare Van Slyke to Upton because what you can expect from Van Slyke is he either hits a home run or strikes out. Ethier will be ready to go when it comes to pinch hitting. Dee Gordon or Jerry Hairston Jr. will only make the roster if Mattingly decides if the bullpen needs a long reliever or not.
Braves bench looks less stronger than the Dodgers bench, Schafer, who always comes up with good at-bats, is the best pinch hitter off the braves bench, no doubt. The Braves have former Dodger, Reed Johnson, B.J. Upton and Jose Constanza making the team which make it really interesting on why they carry 7 outfielders and 1 utility man and 1 catcher on the bench unless both Constanza is strictly only baserunning and Upton is both defense and base running as well. No question that Dan Uggla was left the roster due to having his lasik eye surgery late in the season.
Dodgers Starting Rotation:
This is no question who has the better starting rotation. The Dodgers have the most dangerous 1-2 combo in the playoffs. With Ryu and Nolasco as the 3-4 punch. Ryu and Nolasco could be aces on other teams and that is what makes the Dodgers rotation scary. Despite Nolasco having a really bad september. I think he just needed a break, which he got from Monday through Wednesday. Kershaw is always at the top his game, but could get in trouble if his offense behind doesn’t produce run support. I expect the Dodgers to still win game 1, if not 2 of the series in Atlanta. But that is the beauty of sports every day is a new day and the Braves will compete to stay in the playoffs.
Braves Starting Rotation:
Kris Medlen is the ace of this staff. He carried the team on his back all season long even when Tim Hudson went down. Well, that could end tomorrow night as Kershaw will face Medlen in a duo and it will be Medlen who blinks first because Kershaw, well when does he ever blink in his starts? Especially when it comes to playoffs. Teheran is the only other threat to the Dodgers lineup. Teheran is a rising star, but I think he will feel the pressure quick of pitching in a playoff game since he will be facing a former cy young winner in Greinke. Minor and Hale, they would be good pitchers and will only win if the Dodgers offense is having a really bad day against them. Hale and Minor don’t have anything scary in their pitching arsenal. Hale I don’t know much, but I would think he be the 4th starter in the series over Freddy Garcia. Paul Maholm got left off the roster which is surprising considering he is a decent pitcher.
I really hope that Mattingly makes the right decisions for last spots of the roster as I think out of the three (*) players, Volquez or Capuano will take the last spot if the management decides they need a long reliever. League does not deserve to make the roster this year. I am usually optimistic about everything, but League just did not have a great year at all. I just think he needs a long break to clear his mind and work on his mechanics again in the winter. As for the rest of the bullpen it is solid. Rodriguez had a bad last two months. Hopefully after being with his wife as she went into Labor, will help ease his mind with the postseason quickly approaching. Jansen and Wilson make a great 8th-9th inning duo. I will be sad and disappointed if Withrow does not make the roster and League makes it over him. Withrow has simply been throwing whiffs when League hasn’t.
A lot of surprises including Scott Downs and Anthony Varvaro not making the team and David Hale, the rookie making the team over Varvaro. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is making a lot of surprise moves this October. It makes me wonder, will this bullpen help the Braves, besides Kimbrel, maybe Walden and Avilan? Kimbrel is always consistent with his pitching, but the rest of the bullpen questionable this bullpen will be facing a completely different team then they did earlier in the season when the Dodgers were on a bad losing streak.
Advantage: Slightly Dodgers
No explanation is needed for this one. They both have made questionable decisions often.
This is going to be an interesting series since the Braves kept off some of their best players like Uggla to Downs to Varvaro. The Dodgers, I know that Mattingly on his roster decisions, his mistakes will be limited because I have to believe that League at this point won’t be helping the club. But I bet if League is on the roster, its because Mattingly wants to give League one more shot, but it has to be with Withrow on the roster as well. The Dodgers will win the series if Mattingly plays his cards right.