LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers’ Opening Day roster is now complete as the team looks to become the first team in the sport to repeat as champions since the 1998-2000 Yankees won three in a row.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced Monday that Dustin May will be the team’s fifth starter and that David Price and Tony Gonsolin will start the season as multi-inning relievers. Zach McKinstry earned the last spot on the bench. On Tuesday, Roberts finalized the roster, letting left-hander Scott Alexander know that he won the last spot in the bullpen over right-hander Dennis Santana.
Aside from the active 26-man roster, the Dodgers will take Santana, Garrett Cleavinger, Keibert Ruiz, DJ Peters and one more player on their upcoming road trip as part of the team’s taxi squad.
Let’s take a look at the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster.
Catchers (2): Austin Barnes, Will Smith
Smith and Barnes complement each other well and are lined up to be the two catchers on the Opening Day roster, barring something unforeseen over the next couple of days. Smith has the potential to be an All-Star because of his offensive prowess, but still has to prove that he can deliver the same level of production over a 162-game season. Barnes, on the other hand, is considered one of the best defensive catchers in the National League and has a good rapport with the pitching staff. With Clayton Kershaw pitching on Opening Day, it’s likely that it’ll be Barnes starting behind the plate on Thursday. Smith should get the edge in playing time throughout the season.
First base (2): Matt Beaty, Max Muncy
Muncy had a down season in 2020, but the Dodgers stuck with him in the cleanup spot and he delivered during the postseason, contributing three home runs and 14 RBIs. The Dodgers hope that getting back to a normal routine will help Muncy in ’21. He’ll continue to hit in the middle of the order.
Beaty will give the Dodgers some extra versatility. His willingness to move to the outfield more often this spring will be a big benefit this season. He will provide depth at the corner infield and outfield spots.
Second base (2): Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor
Taylor will play all over the field this season, but he’ll get a fair share of his playing time at second, particularly against left-handed pitching. Lux will have to prove that his super Minor League production can translate to the big league level. So far, so good for Lux, who hit an opposite-field homer off Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney on Sunday.
Third base (2): Edwin Ríos, Justin Turner
No changes here as Turner is expected to receive the bulk of the playing time at third base. Turner showed up to camp significantly skinnier, and the hope is that it helps him continue to be agile defensively at third base. He’s been one of the standouts on defense this spring. Ríos will also get a good amount of playing time because of his impressive power. He has struggled this spring, however, hitting just .185 in 27 at-bats, but the Dodgers aren’t too concerned. He also dealt with mild hamstring tightness that forced him out of the lineup for a week. Taylor will also get some playing time at third, giving the Dodgers even more depth at the position.
Shortstop (1): Corey Seager
Seager is entering a contract season and will be looking to build on a very impressive 2020, which ended with NL Championship Series and World Series MVP trophies. He played in 52 of the 60 games last season, a heavy workload that will continue in ‘21 if the star shortstop is healthy. Seager hit eight homers this spring and looks like a potential MVP candidate this season.
Outfield (3): Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, AJ Pollock
The Dodgers lost Joc Pederson in free agency, meaning the outfield workload will largely fall on Betts, Bellinger and Pollock, although the club has plenty of versatile players who can fill in as needed. Taylor, Beaty and McKinstry will also get plenty of playing time in the outfield, especially if Lux has a good start to the season.
Bellinger’s shoulder was a question mark earlier in spring, but the star outfielder put all of those concerns to rest, smashing a homer in each of the team’s last two Spring Training games. Bellinger will hit cleanup for the Dodgers this season.
Utility (1): Zach McKinstry
McKinstry secured the last spot on the bench for the Dodgers due to his versatility. He’ll play second, third and both corner outfield spots this season. Scouts believe McKinstry’s best position is second base, but the utility man will try to fill Kiké Hernández’s shoes this season.
Starting pitchers (5): Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, Dustin May
On paper, it’s hard to pick a rotation that has more talent and depth than what the Dodgers will trot out there this season. Kershaw will get the Opening Day nod for the ninth time in his career, and then it’ll be Bauer, Buehler, Urías and May, who beat out Price and Gonsolin for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Relievers (8): Scott Alexander, Victor González, Kenley Jansen, Corey Knebel, Tony Gonsolin, Jimmy Nelson, David Price,Blake Treinen
The Dodgers have a different look in the bullpen this season, but this is a mix that they’re high on, especially when it comes to limiting the workload over the first few months. With Price, Gonsolin and Nelson, the Dodgers have three pitchers who can give the team extended length out of the bullpen. The Dodgers expect Price and Gonsolin to pitch up to four innings in an outing, while Nelson will be what Roberts called a “two-inning monster.”
With Alexander on the staff, the Dodgers have three left-handed relievers going into the season. Alexander limited left-handed hitters to a .056 batting average last season. Knebel, Jansen and Treinen will get most of the late-inning opportunities. Brusdar Graterol and Joe Kelly will start the season on the injured list, but are not expected to miss a significant amount of time.