LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Dodgers included four rookies on their NL Division Series roster.
First baseman Matt Beaty, second baseman Gavin Lux, catcher Will Smith and reliever Dustin May each made impacts during the regular season when the Dodgers won a franchise-record 106 games.
“They don’t act like rookies, they don’t play the game like rookies, and we’re going to need them in the post-season,” Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said Thursday. “We don’t expect their performance to be any different.”
Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts added, “We just believe in those guys.”
The Dodgers and Washington Nationals announced their rosters for the best-of-five series hours before the start of Game 1.
Smith was tabbed to catch starter Walker Buehler on Thursday in a Kentucky-bred battery. Smith is from Louisville and Buehler is from Lexington.
Roberts often jokes about Smith’s youthful looks.
“Don’t let that fool you because this guy is as tough as they come,” he said.
Beaty is the oldest of the quartet at 26. Lux is 21, May is 22 and Smith is 24.
Roberts noted that times have changed since his playing days when there were few such youngsters on major league rosters.
“The young players aren’t going away,” he said. “They’re very talented, in my opinion, more talented than we have ever seen in baseball. So now the question is how do you get the most out of these players on your particular ballclub? Our guys have done a great job of that.”
The Nationals have their own talented youngster in 20-year-old Juan Soto, who was to start in left field Thursday. His clutch hit in the eighth inning helped them to a dramatic NL wild-card win over Milwaukee.
“He likes the big moments. The 50,000 fans, the big lights, doesn’t bother him a bit,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s a very intense kid, he loves to hit. He loves to play the game.”
The Nationals tweaked their roster after the NL wild-card game. Catcher Raudy Read and outfielder Andrew Stevenson were dropped in favour of added pitching depth with right-handers Wander Suero and Austin Voth.
Washington is going with 11 pitchers and 14 position players.
Beaty and Lux are among six left-handed hitters on the Dodgers’ roster. Lux was called up in September after starting the season at Double-A.
Another rookie, outfielder Alex Verdugo, was ruled out of the NLDS because of a back injury.
Los Angeles is carrying 12 pitchers and 13 position players.
The rotation consists of Buehler and left-handers Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill.
The relievers are: right-handers Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baéz, Joe Kelly, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling and May, and lefties Adam Kolarek and Julio Urías. Maeda and Stripling are former starters.
The other position players are: outfielder Cody Bellinger, infielder David Freese, utilityman Kiké Hernández, catcher Russell Martin, infielder Max Muncy, outfielder Joc Pederson, outfielder A.J. Pollock, infielder Corey Seager, utilityman Chris Taylor and third baseman Justin Turner.
Washington’s pitchers are: right-handers Daniel Hudson, Tanner Rainey, Fernando Rodney, Aníbal Sánchez, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Hunter Strickland, and left-handers Patrick Corbin, who starts Game 1, and Sean Doolittle.
The position players are: catchers Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki; infielders Matt Adams, Asdrúbal Cabrera, Brian Dozier, Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner and Ryan Zimmerman; and outfielders Adam Eaton, Gerardo Parra, Victor Robles, and Michael A. Taylor.
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