LOS ANGELES -- As expected, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed Tuesday that All-Star first baseman Max Muncy will not be on the team’s roster for Wednesday’s National League Wild Card Game against the Cardinals.
Roberts also added that Muncy won’t be available for the NL Division Series, if the Dodgers get to that point. His availability for the NL Championship Series or the World Series also appears to be unlikely, but the Dodgers aren’t ready to rule out the possibility of a potential return for Muncy.
“Still trying to hold out a glimmer of hope that he’ll be able to join us later on in the postseason,” Roberts said. “I don’t know what that really means, but I do know that he’s been known to heal quickly, and he’s determined to try and come help us in any way he can, so I don’t want to close the door completely on that.”
Muncy also said that he’ll remain hopeful about a potential return. He received encouraging news after scans revealed that he didn’t suffer a UCL tear on his left elbow and he won’t require surgery. Muncy did dislocate his elbow on the play and suffered some other damage. The first baseman, who was sporting a large arm brace, didn’t know what was next for a potential rehab assignment.
“For now, it’s just let these guys focus on their game [Wednesday] and do everything I can to help them out,” Muncy said Tuesday. “Cheer these guys on as loud as possible and try to enjoy this special ride. [Clayton Kershaw] said it the other day: we have a special team, a special group of guys, and I don't want to take anything away from them.”
While the Dodgers remain cautiously optimistic about Muncy’s return later in the postseason, his injury does make advancing past Wednesday’s win-or-go-home game that much more difficult. Muncy led the team with 36 homers and has hit in the middle of the order all season. His defense at first base is also better than the other options.
The Dodgers could choose to start Cody Bellinger at first base and keep Chris Taylor or Gavin Lux in center field. Taylor would be the better option on defense, while Lux would give them another left-handed hitting option. Starting Matt Beaty at first base and keeping Bellinger in center could also be a possibility for the Dodgers, giving them two more lefty hitters in the lineup.
There’s also the possibility that Albert Pujols could get the start against his former team. Pujols is a much better hitter against left-handed pitching, but he could be another option at first base. During Tuesday’s workout at Dodger Stadium, Beaty, Pujols and Bellinger all took grounders at first base.
“We’ve got some options, but I’m going to think about it for another 24 hours,” Roberts said. “If a guy starts a game, he may not finish the game there, trying to keep some optionality with the lineup, with the defense, all that stuff.”
Roberts said the team’s final decision will factor in a player’s ability at the plate and on defense. With Max Scherzer being a fly-ball pitcher, the Dodgers could benefit from keeping Bellinger, who is an elite outfielder, in center. Roberts also said he’s considering starting Lux, who doesn’t have much experience in the outfield, but has hit .360 since returning to the Majors on Sept. 10.
Workout day notes
• When it comes to the active roster for Wednesday’s game, Roberts wanted to keep some things in-house. He did, however, say that Walker Buehler will not be on the team’s roster after throwing 79 pitches on Sunday against the Brewers. Julio Urías, on the other hand, will be available out of the bullpen.
In the event that the Dodgers get past the Cardinals, Roberts all but confirmed that Buehler would be the starter for Game 1 on Friday against the Giants in the NLDS. If Urías doesn’t pitch on Wednesday, he would start Game 2 on Saturday.
• Right-handers Mitch White and Andre Jackson threw live batting practice to Mookie Betts, Justin Turner, Taylor, Bellinger and other hitters on the field. That makes White and Jackson unlikely options to be on the team’s roster on Wednesday.
• Though unlikely, Roberts also included Billy McKinney, who has been sidelined with a left hip impingement, as a possible option at first base on Wednesday.