Dodgers set their Opening Day roster

March 31st, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers left Camelback Ranch on Saturday, their Opening Day roster was all set. They were ready to break camp with the group they believed gave them the best chance to get off to a strong start.

But when the official roster came out on Thursday, Ryan Pepiot, who was scheduled to be the team’s No. 5 starter, wasn’t on the roster. Instead, Pepiot will start the season on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain.

Pepiot started the Dodgers’ last game of the Freeway Series against the Angels on Tuesday, allowing five earned runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings.

“Past couple weeks there’s just been a little lingering oblique,” Pepiot said Thursday. “Tried to throw through it the other day, thought it would be fine. After the first inning, I just felt it even more. Tried to battle through it, probably overcompensated and woke up really sore yesterday. Disappointing. Bummed. But we caught it pretty early, so hopefully it won’t last too long.” 

Replacing Pepiot on the roster is right-hander Michael Grove, who was edged out by Pepiot for the No. 5 spot in the rotation this spring. Despite not winning the job initially, Grove had a strong spring. But with Tony Gonsolin (left ankle sprain) and Pepiot both starting on the IL, the Dodgers’ starting pitching depth is getting tested very early.

“I don't know what that means, as far as the longer term,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “But right now, he's shut down for a few days and we'll kind of pick back up from there. But for Michael, it's a great opportunity. I'm excited for him.” 

Here’s the Opening Day roster:

Catcher (2): ,
This spot has been a strength over the past few seasons, as Smith and Barnes make quite the case for the best catching duo in the National League. Smith is one of the most underrated hitters in MLB and is expected to take yet another step forward in 2023. Barnes is an above-average backup catcher who knows how to navigate through lineups really well.

First base (1):
It was an emotional year for Freeman, but he and the Dodgers couldn’t have asked for a better first season with Los Angeles. Freeman led the Majors with 199 hits in 2022, while his .325 batting average was the highest of his career in a full 162-game season.

Second base (1):
Vargas struggled in limited time last season, going 8-for-47 with one homer in his first taste of the Majors. Going into this season, however, Vargas will handle most of the responsibility at second base. After spending the first few weeks of spring camp not being able to swing the bat because of a hairline fracture on his right pinky, Vargas has looked the part at the plate and has made some strides defensively at second base.

Shortstop (1):
Lux was going to be the Dodgers’ starting shortstop this season, but he tore his right ACL and sprained his right LCL in a Cactus League game against the Padres, costing him the entire 2023 season. Rojas was acquired as a depth piece from the Marlins in January, but now he’ll be tasked with handling most of the games at shortstop, at least to start the season.

Third base (1):
Muncy was the Dodgers’ primary first baseman in 2021, but his versatility has helped Los Angeles get creative over the past few seasons. After spending time at second and third last year, Muncy will be the Dodgers’ everyday third baseman in ‘23, and he’s looking for a big bounce-back season at the plate.

Outfielders (6): , , , , ,
Heyward and Outman will break camp with the Dodgers, each earning a spot on the Opening Day roster with solid springs. Outman will be the Dodgers’ primary center fielder against right-handed pitching. Heyward got off to a hot start at the plate, but has tapered off over the last few weeks. He’s expected to be the team’s fourth outfielder and will get playing time against righties. 

Peralta will be the team’s left fielder and Thompson will get almost all of his playing time against lefties. Then there’s Betts, who will occasionally play second base, but most of his time will be in right field -- the position at which he’s won six Gold Glove Awards.

DH (1):
Given his age and declining defense, Martinez is now viewed as a designated hitter, and a very good one at that. Despite a slow spring at the plate, he should help the Dodgers’ lineup, especially against left-handed pitching.

Starting pitchers (5): , , , ,
The Dodgers have constantly said they feel good about its starting pitching depth this season. That’ll be put to the test right away.

Coming into the spring, the Dodgers’ rotation appeared set, but that changed when Gonsolin once again landed on the injured list, this time with a left ankle sprain, Gonsolin will be sidelined until late April at the earliest.

And following the surprise of Pepiot starting the season on the IL, it’s time for Grove, who lost the competition this spring to Pepiot, to show what he can do. It’ll be crucial for the Dodgers to overcome these injuries over the first month of the season.

Relief pitchers (8): , , , , , , ,
The last spot in the bullpen was the only one in question, and Jackson ultimately won a place on the Opening Day roster following a strong spring. Jackson will serve as L.A.’s multi-inning reliever to start the season, something the Dodgers value given that some of their starters are still building up and the high-leverage relievers won’t be exposed to heavy workloads early in the season.