Roberts still non-committal on Ethier and Pederson

On Tuesday afternoon, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts held a teleconference with twenty-something members of the media regarding the upcoming National League Division Series, which begins this Friday at Dodger Stadium. And while the Dodger skipper was quite specific about his upcoming starting rotation and his bullpen, he was far less so about who would fill the last couple of spots on his team’s 25-man NLDS roster.

Rich [Hill] threw the ball well and faced some hitters (during a simulated game on Monday) and he came out of it well,” Roberts said. “So if it goes right, as it has been, we look forward to him pitching game two.”

Roberts confirmed that left-hander Rich Hill will start game-2 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Although it had been assumed that the left-handed Hill and right-hander Yu Darvish would round out the Dodgers starting rotation behind left-handed staff ace and 2017 NL Cy Young award favorite Clayton Kershaw for the short best-of-five Division Series, the order in which Hill and Darvish would appear remained uncertain – primarily because of Hill’s limited experience at mile-high Coors Field (should it be the Rockies who prevail in Wednesday night’s National League Wild Card game against the Arizona Diamondbacks), and the fact that Darvish has never pitched in a game there.

“I think for us it’s more of – motive withstanding – we feel good with Rich just pitching at home,” said Roberts. “I think that he feels comfortable, has had a lot of success here, and Yu feels comfortable pitching either at home or on the road.”

There was one piece of information that came as a bit of a surprise to the telephonically-gathered media on Tuesday, and that was what left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s role will be in the postseason. It had been assumed by most (and even reported by some) that the 30-year-old Incheon, South Korea native would pitch exclusively out of the bullpen during the postseason.

Not so.

“I don’t know if Ryu is going to be in the pen. He obviously is uncomfortable in that role, having only done it I think once,” Roberts said. “So for Ryu, he’s either going to be as a starter or not on the roster.”

And then there’s fellow left-hander Alex Wood.

“With Alex, he obviously has done both roles. He’s earned the opportunity to potentially get a long look as a starter,” Roberts said. “We don’t want to announce it, but obviously he’s had a tremendous season.”

With most of the questions about the Dodgers starting rotation and bullpen pretty much asked and answered, the focus of the teleconference shifted to the few remaining bench spots still up for grabs. One such position, and yet another bit of a surprise, involved 25-year-old Albany, NY native Tim Locastro, who was used (almost) exclusively as a pinch-runner in the three games in which he appeared after his September 29 call-up and MLB debut.

“He is,” Roberts answered, when asked if Locastro was still in the conversation for being the 25th man on the Dodgers NLDS roster. “Tim’s in the conversation, and when you’re looking at playing potential close ballgames and to be able to use him in various situations to help you steal a base or create some tension for an opposing pitcher, I think that holds a lot of value.

“We’re going to be in the process here of doing some simulated games and kind of put him in situations where he can kind of mimic those situations, but yeah, I trust him as a base runner, a base stealer, so … he’s still in the mix,” added Roberts.

And then came the burning question that nearly every Dodger fan had. What about Andre Ethier who, as Dodger fans know, had very limited playing time in September upon his return from a near-season-long absence due to a lingering back injury. In fact, the 35-year-old Dodgers senior statesman appeared in only 22 games (eight as a starter) and had only 34 total at-bats and collected eight hits (.235). That being said, two of those eight hits were home runs and another a double.

“We’re still kind of deliberating and obviously we like the quality when he gets in the box and he’s done it over the last couple years of his career,” Roberts answered. “To say definitively that he’s on the roster we’re not going to do that, but we see him as a (left-handed) bat off the bench.”

Roberts would not commit when asked if Andre Ethier – affectionately known to Dodger fans as ‘Captain Clutch’ – would be on his postseason roster. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Speaking of left-handed bats, how does 36-year-old veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez fit into Roberts’ postseason plans?

“Adrian is going to be with us as a taxi guy,” explained Roberts. “Certainly with his history and obviously with his experience is only going to help the team.”

And last but not least, will struggling outfielder Joc Pederson and his rather dismal .212 batting average be on the Dave Roberts’ postseason roster?

“Joc? We haven’t made that decision yet, but he’s done some good things,” said Roberts, who seemed to be struggling with  his answer. “Joc, obviously he can help us in a lot of different ways – playing defense, bat off the bench, can run – so I think that for Joc, right now the role would be a left-handed bat off the bench, but we haven’t made that decision if he’s going to be on the 25 yet.”

Then again, perhaps they have but just don’t want to say so yet.


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2 Responses to “Roberts still non-committal on Ethier and Pederson”

  1. Respect the Rivalry says:

    Granderson ahead of Dre? I just don’t understand that.

  2. CruzinBlue says:

    It was apparent that Curtis Granderson started heating up over the last two weeks, which isn’t to say I’d rather see him over Andre Ethier in the lineup; quite to the contrary. As the Dodgers senior statesman, Ethier’s earned the shot at being a major contributor during the postseason. He’s a gamer and had the majority of the year to rebuild his strength, not to mention his fresh legs of having recently returned to action.

    Andre is pain-free and deserves to play.

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