Posted October 03, 2013

Examining final Division Series roster decisions by NL teams

Atlanta Braves, Division Series, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals
Brian Wilson, Dodgers

Brian Wilson didn’t join the Dodgers until late August but he’ll be in their bullpen in October. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

On Wednesday, I covered the Braves’ decision to leave Dan Uggla and Paul Maholm off their Division Series roster. With that series starting today, they and the other remaining NL teams have now finalized their rosters, so it’s worth running down some of the last-minute decisions regarding who’s on and who’s off. I’ll follow up with the AL tomorrow after rosters are finalized.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Though he will be limited to pinch-hitting duty for at least the first two games of the Division Series, Andre Ethier is on the roster. Ethier suffered a power outage this season, hitting .272/.360/.423 with 12 homers, but proved capable of manning centerfield amid a slew of injuries including those of Matt Kemp, who’s been shut down for the year. Since spraining his ankle on Sept. 13, Ethier has just one plate appearance, and he’s now reportedly suffering from shin splints, so he’ll be confined to a bench role unless his running improves. Speedy Dee Gordon (10-for-12 in steals this year, 66-for-85 career) is on the roster for pinch-running purposes, and could be used as a pinchrunner for Ethier in the event the latter reaches successfully. Meanwhile, Skip Schumaker will man centerfield, while righty outfielder Scott Van Slyke (.240/.342/.465 with seven homers in 152 PA) has gotten the nod for the bench over utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr. (.211/.265/.275)

Also off the roster for this round are former closer Brandon League, and reclamation projects Carlos Marmol and Edinson Volquez. Instead, manager Don Mattingly chose to go with lefty fifth starter Chris Capuano (4.26 ERA in 105 2/3 IP) as a potential long man, and another late-season reclamation project, Brian Wilson (0.66 ERA in 13 2/3 IP), in a short relief role.

Atlanta Braves
Beyond Uggla and Maholm (whose absence does not appear to be related to his September elbow soreness, since he’ll stay loose in the instructional league), the other surprise exclusion is lefty specialist Scott Downs, who put up a 3.86 ERA in 25 appearances totaling 14 innings after being acquired from the Angels on July 29, and who held lefties to a .259/.333/.296 line in 90 PA this year. Setup man Luis Avilan and swingman Alex Wood, who made 11 second-half starts before being curbed due to workload concerns, will be the southpaws out of the bullpen. The former held lefties to a microscopic .144/.219/.163 line in 114 PA, while the latter was about on par with Downs at .267..320/.302 in 99 PA. Meanwhile, rookie righty David Hale, who made two starts totaling 11 innings for Atlanta this year with a 14/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, is on the roster as the long man.

Pittsburgh Pirates
The Bucs have opted to go with John Buck over rookie Tony Sanchez for the second catching spot behind Russell Martin. Acquired from the Mets along with Marlon Byrd on Aug. 27, Buck made just 24 plate appearances for the Pirates; he hit .219/.285/.362 overall, though just six of his 15 homers came after April. Sanchez, who made just 66 plate appearances, hit .233/.288/.400.

Also out in the cold, in part due to the arrival of Byrd, is Travis Snider, who hit just .215/.281/.333 with five homers in 285 PA while failing to hold down the rightfield job. Sanchez and Snider were both on the roster for the Wild-Card Game, but that was because the Pirates carried “only” nine pitchers; they’ve added starters A.J. Burnett and Charlie Morton for the Division Series, so somebody had to go.

St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are the only NL team carrying 12 pitchers for the Division Series. Two of them are rookies Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha. Both righties pitched very well for St. Louis but are in uncharted territory, innings-wise. Miller delivered a 3.06 ERA and 8.8 strikeouts per nine in 31 starts covering 173 1/3 innings, 34 more than his previous professional high. Wacha put up a 2.78 ERA and 9.0 strikeouts per nine in 62 innings and came within one out of a no-hitter against the Nationals in the last of his nine starts, on Sept. 24; he has 147 innings between the minors and majors this year. The Pirates hit Miller for a 5.32 ERA with six homers in 22 innings over four starts this year, while they managed just two hits and were shut out by Wacha in nine innings, including seven in a strong start on Sept. 8.

Elsewhere, displaced closer Edwin Mujica did indeed make the roster, though Trevor Rosenthal will close. While it was expected that Allen Craig — who hit a poitenti .315/.373/.457 with 13 homers — would not make the roster given that he hasn’t played since Sept. 4, on Thursday general manager John Mozeliak went even further, conceding that the 28-year-old slugger probably is done for the year due to a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. Matt Adams (.284/.335/.503 with 17 homers in 319 PA) will continue filling in for Craig.

This article has been updated to reflect Chris Withrow’s inclusion on Dodgers roster.

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