Best Guess on Dodgers Shortened Season Opening Day Roster
Fans in the seats or no fans in the seats, cardboard fans or digital fans, I don't care anymore. The universal DH, no DH or whatever other weirdness Rob Manfred wants to trot out there, I just don't care anymore.
Outlaw the shift or make it mandatory. Throw a rover in the outfield if you have to. Allow the batter to call for a high or low pitch - which actually was a thing in 1886 - if that's what gets you through the night. Just give me a full slate of games six nights a week with a matinee on Sunday.
If it's safe to play ball, let's please play ball. I'll take it any which way you can conjure, MLB, and I won't complain. Promise.
Look, while the momentum for a 2020 season of some sort is plain as day, with plans moving forward as we speak, it is far from a sure thing. If I had to lay odds on an 82-game campaign actually going start to finish, I'd put it at 60/40 against.
But that doesn't mean I'm not rooting for it. I am. And as long as the prospect of a Dodgers Opening Day roster exists, I want to be on record with a prediction.
Caveats: We don't know that the league will decide on a 30-man roster, but there has been some talk of it - and since I suggested as much immediately after the March shutdown - for the purposes of this exercise, let's go with 30. A taxi squad of another 10 to 20 men is a fair assumption as well. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
We can't predict injury or illness this far out, so let's keep a good thought and presume full health for the entire Los Angeles organization. Players, coaches, trainers, support staff, front office, essential venue workers, etc. And the same for the other 29 teams. Yes, that includes Houston.
Let's also stipulate that the freeze on trades will be lifted during a second Spring Training and that it's possible that some of the players listed below will be dealt. A number of 40-man additions and subtractions should be expected too.
OK, here we go:
Starting pitchers (5): Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Julio Urias and Alex Wood.
Bullpen (10): Pedro Baez, Caleb Ferguson, Tony Gonsolin, Brusdar Graterol, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Adam Kolarek, Dustin May, Ross Stripling and Blake Treinen.
The possibility of Scott Alexander instead of Adam Kolarek exists. Neither option is particularly exciting. I don't expect Jimmy Nelson to be willing and able, but I suppose it's a physical possibility.
Regulars (8): (versus right-hand pitchers): Mookie Betts, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Gavin Lux and Will Smith. And that is a great eight.
Bench (7): Austin Barnes, Matt Beaty, Kiké Hernandez, Russell Martin, A.J. Pollock, Edwin Rios, Chris Taylor.
I'm going out on a limb re Martin. It's the simplest transaction imaginable. And likely a rather inexpensive one. More on why L.A. should sign Coltrane here.
Rocky Gale? Please.
We wouldn't see Keibert Ruiz start the season with the big club under normal circumstances, but with the chances of a minor league season diminishing as we speak, don't be surprised if that's what ends up happening. The switch-hitting Ruiz would balance out the bench, left and right.
DH: Prepare yourself, National League fans, because it's happening. And you'll live.
A designated hitter in the NL means fewer pinch hitters. And fewer bunts (hallelujah!) It means more at bats for guys who aren't known for their defense, such as Beaty and Rios, both of whom were on the 26-man roster bubble prior to the shutdown.
I'm especially intrigued by Rios, who is a real-deal stick. He hit .270/.340/.575, with 31 home runs and 91 RBIs in what I believe were his final 393 minor league at bats at Oklahoma City last year, he hit .277/.393/.617 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 47 L.A. at bats and was at .296/.367/.444, with one and six in exhibition action prior to the shutdown.
The lefty-swinging Rios hit .275/.396/.650 with all of his homers and RBIs in 40 big league at bats versus right-hand pitchers in 2019, and hit .269/.342/.593, with 25 and 72 in 297 at bats vs. RHP at OKC. The guy rakes.
So there you have it. The Dodgers 30-man roster. Do not buy into the crap you're hearing about a shorter schedule reducing the club's chances in 2020. There is no better 30-man roster in baseball. And certainly not in any incarnation of an MLB West. Astros schmastros!
And remember, glove conquers all.
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.