MILWAUKEE -- Left-hander Julio Urias replaced left-handed reliever Scott Alexander for the Dodgers' National League Championship Series roster that was submitted before Friday's Game 1 against the Brewers.Urias pitched only four Major League innings this year as he returned from last year's shoulder capsule surgery. He hasn't pitched in an
MILWAUKEE -- Left-hander Julio Urias replaced left-handed reliever Scott Alexander for the Dodgers' National League Championship Series roster that was submitted before Friday's Game 1 against the Brewers.
Urias pitched only four Major League innings this year as he returned from last year's shoulder capsule surgery. He hasn't pitched in an MLB game since Sept. 30, but management apparently feels he could be an answer to Milwaukee's left-handed-hitting NL MVP Award candidate Christian Yelich.
The Dodgers went with a 12-man pitching staff, and the bullpen has three lefties -- Urias, Alex Wood and rookie Caleb Ferguson.
:: NLCS schedule and results ::
No changes were made in the 13 position players that were on the roster for the NL Division Series victory over the Braves.
The planets are back in alignment with Clayton Kershaw starting Game 1 after throwing eight scoreless innings against the Braves to disprove the doubters. The interesting wrinkle in this series is that Hyun-Jin Ryu gets the Game 2 start at Miller Park, instead of at Dodger Stadium, where he has been virtually unbeatable. That apparently was triggered in part because of the way the game sped up on rookie Walker Buehler in front of a noisy crowd in Atlanta. Instead, he will start Game 3 in the friendlier confines of Dodger Stadium. Unflappable Rich Hill will start Game 4 at Dodger Stadium, although he is available in relief in the first two games.
Kenley Jansen looked like his dominating self against the Braves, which confirmed manager Dave Roberts' confidence in his closer. That sets up everything else. The Dodgers go with matchups, so the setup reliever can change, but more often than not it will be Kenta Maeda, the starter-turned-reliever whose fastball has ticked up out of the bullpen. Pedro Baez has been on fire for two months, so his role has expanded, and for middle-inning jams, Ryan Madson showed what October experience means by getting the two biggest outs in the NLDS Game 4 clincher. Dylan Floro's usage remains very limited, although he's on the roster.
Urias is the only change from the NLDS, and he seems like a roll of the dice considering he made only three September appearances for the Dodgers after spending a year recovering from major shoulder surgery. But Urias might be the best chance to contain Yelich. Wood and Ferguson join Urias as left-handers.
In the infield, third baseman Justin Turner, shortstop Manny Machado and second baseman Enrique Hernandez play every day. Against left-handed starters in Game 1 and 2, veteran David Freese at first will start with Player Page for Max Muncy taking over against right-handers. Machado was swinging for the fences throughout the NLDS and cleared them twice with huge homers, including one in the clincher. He's also striking out a lot. Defensively, Machado can be spectacular, but he has misplayed relatively routine chances as well.
Turner's defense was back to its high level against the Braves. The Dodgers' offense generally runs through Turner. Cody Bellinger is a better defender at first than Muncy and might take over there in the late innings. If Roberts cools on playing Bellinger in center against lefties, James Dozier could take over second base with Hernandez moving to center field.
Against left-handed starters, the formation is usually Chris Taylor in left, Bellinger in center and Matt Kemp in right. Bellinger's 2017 World Series struggle seems to have carried over to this postseason (0-for-11 against Atlanta), which could result in a tweak. The lineup is a lot clearer against right-handed pitching, as Joc Pederson starts in left field, Bellinger in center and Yasiel Puig (reverse splits) in right. Add them all up, and they represent 132 home runs during the regular season.
Unlike last October, when Austin Barnes displaced a slumping Yasmani Grandal behind the plate, Grandal won back the starting job as Barnes struggled offensively all year. Defensively, Grandal's strengths are strike framing and throwing out potential basestealers, and he's cut down on passed balls from last year's league-leading 16 to nine this year. He stayed healthy enough to play in a career-high 140 games in which launched 24 homers, and his walk total jumped from 40 to 72, a sign of better plate discipline. Grandal was only 1-for-13 against the Braves, but the one was a homer.
Here is the complete roster:
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.