LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers have decided on their Game 1 starter for the National League Division Series.
They’re just not ready to say it out loud.
“I think as far as the gamesmanship part of it, I don’t think it’s as big a deal compared to other circumstances where it’s a left-hander versus a right-hander,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the team’s workout and intrasquad game on Friday at Dodger Stadium. “Whoever we play knows they’re going to get a left-handed pitcher and they know the two guys in the first two games.
“Not trying to be too coy. We just want to hold it.”
Roberts did say the team has informed Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw which one will pitch the NLDS opener on Tuesday against either the San Diego Padres or the New York Mets and which will start Game 2.
“They do (know),” Roberts said.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the decision on what order to deploy Urias and Kershaw to start the NLDS was not one that had to be made with any urgency.
“We just don’t have to figure that out right now,” Friedman said. “And so we’re more focused on things that are a little bit more time-sensitive.
“Both are great candidates for Game 1. The other will be a really strong (Game) 2, and put us in position because if we’re fortunate to get through the NLDS, there’s implications of what that looks like in the NLCS.”
Chris Taylor did not participate in Friday’s intrasquad game but has started hitting in the cage and is expected to take part in Saturday’s workout and then see action in the intrasquad game on Sunday and a simulated-game setting on Monday.
“That should suffice” to get him ready for the NLDS, Roberts said. Taylor said his neck has improved since he received a cortisone injection earlier in the week and he has no doubt he will be ready to play by Tuesday.
Blake Treinen and Dustin May, meanwhile, are expected to pitch in the intrasquad games this weekend. May appears to have recovered from his back injury and will likely be an option for the NLDS roster.
“He feels normal,” Roberts said. “So I think for us it’s just about getting him built up.”
Treinen’s status is more uncertain.
“I think both keep taking positive steps which is helpful,” Friedman said. “I think we’re savoring this weekend more after what we went through last year. So we’ll take the weekend and figure it out.”
The main issue with Treinen at this point appears to be how well his shoulder will recover after each outing and how frequently he would be available to pitch during a postseason series. But Friedman said Treinen does “not necessarily” have to be ready to pitch on consecutive days, depending on the composition of the bullpen.
“I’m sure we’ll get down to ‘X’ number of guys for whatever – one, two or three spots and figure out what the rest of our pitching looks like and that factors in,” Friedman said. “But I don’t think it’s realistic to say that we’re going to have Blake in position to where he can take on four of these five games or something like that. That’s just not going to happen right now.”
Right-hander Tony Gonsolin is expected to pitch multiple innings in Saturday’s intrasquad game.
Health will dictate some of the Dodgers’ final decisions about the makeup of their pitching staff for the NLDS. The 13 position players, meanwhile, seem all but settled with only one choice left to make – rookie Miguel Vargas or veteran Hanser Alberto for the final bench spot.
“We’re still kind of figuring out the back end of the position player part of it as far as what makes sense as far as utility in a five-game series, how games can play out, what value a few guys might have versus the others,” Roberts said.
He declined to talk in specifics about that final roster spot but acknowledged Vargas and Alberto offer different things.
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“Obviously Hanser has a lot of value, experience. Obviously, Miguel is more dynamic. There’s some things he can do,” Roberts said.
Alberto spent the season with the Dodgers, batting .244 with two home runs in limited playing time. Vargas (who hit a home run off Ryan Pepiot during Friday’s intrasquad game) batted .304 with a .915 OPS and 17 home runs in Triple-A then went 8 for 47 (.171) in his first taste of the major leagues.
During spring training, Roberts went on a national radio show and guaranteed the Dodgers would win a championship this year, saying “We will win the World Series this year. Put it on record.”
Friedman said he had no problem with his manager being that bold.
“I liked it,” he said. “It’s not something that I would do. But I liked it.
“I definitely believed it. I just wouldn’t necessarily have said it out loud. But I love that he did. … And he’s right. Everyone should believe that – or what are we doing?”