The Dodgers narrowly survived a five-game tilt with their rival Giants, but now they must quickly turn the page and prepare for a seven-game NLCS rematch with the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately for Dodger fans, the club will continue without star first baseman Max Muncy. The injury the knocked Muncy out of the lineup in game 162 will keep him out at least through the World Series.
Here’s how the rest of the roster breaks down for the NLCS…
- Phil Bickford
- Walker Buehler
- Tony Gonsolin
- Brusdar Graterol
- Kenley Jansen
- Joe Kelly
- Corey Knebel
- Evan Phillips
- Max Scherzer
- Blake Treinen
The most notable subtraction from the NLDS roster is southpaw David Price. He’s essentially replaced on the roster by the southpaw Bruihl. Though Price was on the NLDS roster, he did not appear in a game against the Giants. Bruihl provided the Dodgers with a more traditional bullpen lefty while giving up the potential length provided by Price. The veteran Price has plenty of postseason experience, whereas Bruihl is a 24-year-old rookie with just 21 big league games under his belt.
Regardless, it will be Bruihl in the bullpen alongside Vesia preparing for showdowns with Freddie Freeman, Eddie Rosario, or Joc Pederson. Bruihl faced 43 lefties over his 18 1/3 Major League innings, compared to just 30 right-handers. Those same-handed hitters struggled to a .150/.209/.150 mark with just six hits – none for extra bases. Of course, Freeman is usually protected in the lineup by righty Austin Riley, and with the three-batter rule, Bruihl likely won’t escape usage against opposite-handed hitters if he makes an appearance.
They also removed outfielder/first baseman Billy McKinney from the roster. The well-traveled McKinney had mostly been used as a late game replacement at first base. With Beatty, Pujols, and Bellinger on the roster, however, that’s a role the Dodgers should have no trouble filling. Manager Dave Roberts likely trusts both Beatty and Bellinger at first late in games, depending on what the match-ups at the plate dictate.
What is interesting is that the Dodgers chose to add an additional pitcher for this round. Right-hander Evan Phillips will give Roberts another arm with which to mix-and-match. They now have 13 pitchers and 13 position players. Phillips, 27, is a well-traveled righty who has logged innings in his professional career with the Braves, Orioles, Rays, and Dodgers. He made one appearance with Tampa this season before being claimed off waivers by the Dodgers. He appeared seven times down the stretch for the Dodgers, logging more than one inning in five of those seven outings.
The decision to remove McKinney and add Phillips leaves Roberts with a five-man bench. Most days, Pujols, Barnes, Beatty, Souza Jr., and Lux will be available to Roberts off the bench.
As for the rotation, the Dodgers are going with a bullpen game in game one, with Knebel serving as the opener, just as he did in game five against the Giants. Scherzer and Buehler should line up for games two and three.