The Los Angeles Dodgers announced their 25-man roster for the 2016 National League Division, opting to go with three catchers and a seven-man bullpen.
Lefty reliever Alex Wood, who made four September appearances after returning from elbow surgery, was absent from the 25-man squad, with southpaws Grant Dayton and Luis Avilan getting the nod instead. Meanwhile, Austin Barnes will serve as the club's third backstop -- potentially giving the Dodgers more room to use backup catcher Carlos Ruiz as a pinch-hitter.
"[Barnes'] versatility certainly plays into it,'" president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "He's got some foot speed, especially relative to catchers, but also it frees up [Ruiz]. It frees him up for potential big spots against left-handed relievers. It just felt like overall it helped complete our roster."
Regarding the decision to go with Avilan over Wood, Friedman said: "The specifics of their hitters, we just feel [Avilan] matches up really well against them. He's pitched really well this year, handled the adversity of being optioned. Going up and going back down, what he's worked on early in the year has put him in the position to have the success he's had more recently."
The Dodgers open the series with left-hander Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Kershaw missed all of July and August with a herniated disk in his back, but he returned in September, allowing just four earned runs in 28 innings (1.29 ERA). The former NL Cy Young Award and MVP Award winner went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his one start against the Nationals in the regular season.
Left-hander Rich Hill (Game 2) and right-hander Kenta Maeda (Game 3) join Kershaw as confirmed members of the Dodgers' NLDS rotation. It's possible rookie left-hander Julio Urias could receive a start, as well. He's on the roster, but Los Angeles could very well opt to pitch Kershaw on short rest in Game 4.
Rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who has been dealing with discomfort in his left wrist, made the roster and is healthy enough to play in Game 1. Charlie Culberson also cracked the squad and will serve as a backup infielder.
AJ Cassavell is in his sixth season as a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.