LA shifts aim to gaining home-field vs. Nats

Tough decisions ahead in setting postseason roster

LA shifts aim to gaining home-field vs. Nats

LOS ANGELES -- The schedule maker conveniently gave the Dodgers a day off on Monday, well timed for recuperation from Sunday's clinch celebration. Meanwhile, the Baseball Operations department gets no rest, turning immediately to preparation for the Washington Nationals.

Home-field advantage for the best-of-five National League Division Series is still to be decided, but the Nationals lead by two games in the loss column. The Dodgers have six games remaining, three each in San Diego and San Francisco.

Get official NL West postseason gear

"I hope we spend this week making up ground. The home-field advantage is still at stake for us," said general manager Farhan Zaidi. "Now is the time to really dig in, look for strengths and weaknesses and how they'll attack us. All of that could impact how we construct the playoff roster."

The Dodgers went a robust 5-1 against Washington this year, sweeping a three-game series at home in June, taking two of three in Washington in July. Not that those outcomes have any meaning when the slate is wiped clean for the series that starts Friday, Oct. 7, and will be televised by either Fox Sports 1 or MLB Network.

Postseason schedule

"They are one of best teams in the National League all year long," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "We've had success against those guys, but the postseason is different. You run into very good pitching. But the message is to just keep doing what we've been doing."

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The Dodgers had 40 active players for Sunday's clinching win over the Rockies, but that number will be chopped to 25 for the postseason and Roberts concedes that reduction will make for very difficult decisions.

"We've talked about depth all year long," he said "This is such a high-class problem, but paring it down from 40 to 25 will be a challenge. A lot of guys deserve to be on it, so we're going to have some tough decisions."

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Dodgers veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said the Dodgers not only should be confident for the first round, but beyond as well.

"I think that we match up incredibly well," he said. "I think we can take a specific pitcher and just match up with them. 'Hey, here's our lineup and what we're going to do and no matter who's on the mound.' I think we have the ability to just say 'Who you throw, we're going to respond to that and we're going to match up right.'

"I think our team is very deep. Come playoff time, it won't be dependent on like the last playoff with [Clayton] Kershaw and [Zack] Greinke. This year we're going to expect everybody to step up and do their job."

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The Dodgers have three known starters in Kershaw (recovered from a herniated disk), Rich Hill (finger blisters still an issue) and Kenta Maeda. The fourth starter could be Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy or one of the rookies, Jose De Leon, Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling or even Julio Urias. Washington has right-handers Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Joe Ross and one lefty, Gio Gonzalez, to try to exploit the difficulties the Dodgers have had this year in games against left-handed starters (21-21).

The series' managerial matchup has multiple storylines, with the rookie Roberts and the veteran Dusty Baker, MLB's two African-American managers and both former Dodgers outfielders. Roberts won a World Series with Boston in 2004, Baker won one with the Dodgers in 1981.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.