Dodgers keep Baez on playoff roster; D-backs make 2 changes
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dodgers relievers Pedro Baez and Ross Stripling are on Los Angeles’ roster for the NL Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Slumping outfielder Joc Pederson and utilityman Tim Locastro didn’t make the squad announced by manager Dave Roberts on Friday before Game 1 in Los Angeles.
Arizona made two changes to its roster from the wild-card game against Colorado, adding Game 1 starter Taijuan Walker and Pacific Coast League MVP Christian Walker while dropping outfielder Rey Fuentes and catcher Chris Herrmann.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo also confirmed Robbie Ray will start Game 2 and ace Zack Greinke will take the mound for Game 3, as expected. Lovullo hasn’t chosen a starter for a possible Game 4.
Rich Hill will start Game 2 for Los Angeles, with Yu Darvish starting Game 3 and 16-game winner Alex Wood likely starting a possible Game 4.
Baez made a team-leading 66 relief appearances for NL West champion Los Angeles this season, yet he was a regular target of derision from fans in Chavez Ravine and on Twitter while posting a 2.95 ERA. But after two dismal appearances in early September, he didn’t allow a run while striking out seven over four scoreless appearances to end the regular season.
Roberts has been a firm supporter of Baez, who has pitched for the Dodgers since 2014. The right-hander has a 6.52 ERA in 11 career postseason appearances.
“I think that ultimately, Pedro has been a big part of what we’ve done all year,” Roberts said. “I trust him. Arguably, he’s been our highest-leveraged reliever outside of Kenley (Jansen) all year, so I just think it makes sense.”
Stripling was busy all year for the Dodgers, working 74 1/3 innings during a season that included two starts. But he also hits the postseason with questions after posting a 6.08 ERA in his final 13 appearances.
The Dodgers kept 12 pitchers, including eight relievers, at the expense of the speedy Locastro, who could have been a pinch-running specialist. Los Angeles also kept Kyle Farmer as a third catcher behind Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes.
Pederson was left off the roster after batting .071 with no homers after July. Roberts instead went with Farmer, who played in only 20 games for Los Angeles this season, and veteran Andre Ethier.
Taijuan Walker was set to make his postseason debut in Game 1 against Clayton Kershaw after Arizona used Ray in relief during its 11-8 victory over Colorado on Wednesday.
Christian Walker batted .309 with 32 homers for Triple-A Reno, but has only 39 career at-bats in the big leagues. He provides a right-handed power threat off the Diamondbacks’ bench.
“We had a lot of really good baseball conversations, and these were tough decisions for us,” Lovullo said. ”(Fuentes and Herrmann) have been mainstays and helped us win a lot of games this year, but we just felt like (when) we were projecting the Dodgers roster that we wanted to maximize certain situations. Well, we had to give something up. You can’t have every matchup you want.”
Infielder Chris Owings was another tough omission from Arizona’s roster. He broke his right middle finger in July, but plans to play in an instructional league game Saturday.
″(Owings isn’t) 100 percent physically, but he’s getting there,” Lovullo said. “He’s very, very close. Could he have played in this game? Probably. But we have other options that we felt like could get us through this.”
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