BOSTON -- The Dodgers switched left-handed relievers on the roster submitted Tuesday morning for the World Series, adding Scott Alexander and subtracting rookie Caleb Ferguson.The sinker-throwing Alexander was on the roster for the National League Division Series, but he was replaced by Julio Urias for the NL Championship Series. The
BOSTON -- The Dodgers switched left-handed relievers on the roster submitted Tuesday morning for the World Series, adding Scott Alexander and subtracting rookie Caleb Ferguson.
The sinker-throwing Alexander was on the roster for the National League Division Series, but he was replaced by Julio Urias for the NL Championship Series. The hard-throwing Ferguson made four appearances in the NLCS without allowing a run or a hit in 1 1/3 innings with a strikeout and a walk.
Manager Dave Roberts said the decision was based on Alexander's ability to pitch every day, because Ferguson cannot. Roberts said Ferguson is healthy.
"It definitely wasn't performance," said Roberts. "It was the ability to bounce back every day. The sinkerballer does add a different element, but it was more about the ability to pitch every day."
The Dodgers again went with a 12-man pitching staff, and the bullpen has three lefties -- Alexander, Urias and Alex Wood. Urias pitched more than Ferguson (3 1/3 innings) but also was hit harder.
:: World Series schedule and results ::
No changes were made to the 13 position players that were on the roster for the NLCS victory over the Brewers.
Despite the delay in the announcement, the Dodgers wanted Clayton Kershaw to start Game 1 all along; they just wanted to make sure that Saturday night's 15-pitch ninth inning didn't take too much out of him for a quick turnaround. Even though he will start, he probably will be on a shorter leash because of the relief work in Game 7.
Then comes the decision for Game 2. Walker Buehler pitched Saturday night, and he wasn't coming back on short rest, so the decision was between Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill. Ryu will get the ball, even though he's a far better pitcher at home (1.15 ERA), further demonstrated by an 8.59 ERA in two starts in Milwaukee during the NLCS. Nonetheless, management believes Ryu is the better pitcher at this point and preferred him to make two starts in the series over Hill. So Ryu starts Game 2, Buehler gets Game 3 in Los Angeles, followed by Hill in Game 4.
This alignment also makes Hill available out of the bullpen in Games 6 and 7, something he has done in the past. Ryu, because of his arm history, is not a relief option.
With no slight meant to winner Cody Bellinger, Austin Barnes said the Dodgers' bullpen deserved the NLCS MVP Award, and he's probably right. Kenley Jansen is back to dominating, which is mandatory for the Dodgers' success, but his support staff out-pitched the celebrated bullpen of the Brewers. The depth was so impressive that Kenta Maeda wasn't automatic like last year and it didn't matter, because Pedro Baez's renaissance has continued and Ryan Madson flipped the switch to be an October star again. Dylan Floro and Wood provide depth and length. Alexander's sinker was chosen over Ferguson's heater for lefty situations. Chris Taylor's catch avoided disaster for Urias.
In the infield, third baseman Justin Turner and shortstop Manny Machado play every day. Then it gets complicated. Against left-handed starters, veteran David Freese starts at first base with Player Page for Max Muncy taking over against right-handers. At second base, manager Dave Roberts used four starters -- Muncy, Enrique Hernandez, James Dozier and Taylor. Machado seemed rattled by the fan reaction in Milwaukee to his dustup with Jesus Aguilar. Even though he seems intent on swinging for the fences (when he's not dropping prefect bunts on 3-2 pitches), he still hit .296. Turner's numbers were down from his postseason norm, but his homer won Game 2. Muncy and Hernandez slumped throughout the series -- Muncy with 13 strikeouts in 22 at-bats, Hernandez 1-for-14 with eight strikeouts -- combining for one RBI.
As they showed with run-saving catches in the NLCS, Bellinger and Taylor give the Dodgers a pair of outfielders with center fielder skills, and when Hernandez is out there, he makes three. During the regular season, Yasiel Puig usually started in right field against right-handed pitching and yielded to Matt Kemp against lefties. Puig still overthrows cutoff men with the best of them as he shows off his arm and allows runners extra bases, but that arm also discourages most runners. Puig's focus wanders, but he's a game-changer and you can't take your eyes off him. Joc Pederson was a star last October, but he was hit on the right wrist with a pitch in Game 6 and that could be an issue.
Kemp didn't start any of the final five games of the NLCS, but depending on matchups, he should at least be in the mix for designated hitter. Offensively, Bellinger has been boom-or-bust, while Taylor is remarkably dependable. Hernandez is in a deep funk.
Yasmani Grandal's Willie Davis moment in Game 1 of the NLCS -- two errors, two passed balls -- brought Barnes out of the shadows. Barnes started five of the next six games, and the Dodgers won four of them. Offensively, Barnes' bat can't match Grandal's pop, and he was only 2-for-18 against the Brewers, but one was a big RBI in Game 5. He also drew an equally vital bases-loaded walk. As for Grandal, he really has had trouble catching the ball this year, but the Dodgers often get contributions from the most unlikely sources, and Grandal qualifies.
Here is the complete roster:
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.