Diving into the depths: Los Angeles Dodgers

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Chad Billingsley
3. Ted Lilly
4. Hiroki Kuroda
5. Jon Garland
6. Vicente Padilla
7. John Ely
8. Blake Hawksworth
9. Carlos Monasterios
10. Dana Eveland
11. Tim Redding
12. Chris Withrow

I realize I like the top five more than most, but this is the obvious strength of the Dodgers, and they even have plenty of depth here even though most of their prospects took step backwards last season. Padilla is probably the game’s best sixth starter, and Ely is another nice arm to have in reserve.

Bullpen
1. Jonathan Broxton
2. Hong-Chih Kuo
3. Matt Guerrier
4. Kenley Jansen
5. Ramon Troncoso
6. Vicente Padilla
7. Blake Hawksworth
8. Travis Schlichting
9. Ronald Belisario
10. Carlos Monasterios
11. Scott Elbert
12. Josh Lindblom
13. Jon Link
14. Tim Redding
15. Oscar Villarreal
16. Roman Colon
17. Jon Huber

The bullpen should also be very good, though it’d help plenty if Broxton returned to 2009 form. If that doesn’t happen, they’re going to need Kuo to stay healthy again and take over the closer’s role. … Belisario, who was so effective in posting a 2.04 ERA in 70 2/3 innings as a rookie in 2009, seems unlikely to make the team and could be part of a trade this spring.

Catcher
1. Rod Barajas
2. Dioner Navarro
3. A.J. Ellis
4. Hector Gimenez
5. J.D. Closser

First base
1. James Loney
2. Jay Gibbons
3. John Lindsey
4. Marcus Thames

Second base
1. Juan Uribe
2. Jamey Carroll
3. Ivan DeJesus
4. Justin Sellers

Third base
1. Casey Blake
2. Jamey Carroll
3. Juan Uribe
4. Russ Mitchell
5. Justin Sellers

Shortstop
1. Rafael Furcal
2. Juan Uribe
3. Jamey Carroll
4. Ivan DeJesus
5. Juan Castro

Given that it’s always easy to find a cheap second baseman, it looks like the Dodgers really blew it by spending big on Uribe over the winter. Only Furcal from this group projects as anything more than an average regular and he’s missed big chunks of two of the last three seasons. Uribe is supposed to offer help there, since he can slide to shortstop if Furcal gets hurt. However, he’s not much of a defender there these days.

Left field
1. Jay Gibbons
2. Marcus Thames
3. Tony Gwynn Jr.
4. Xavier Paul
5. Gabe Kapler
6. Jamie Hoffmann
7. Trent Oeltjen
8. Eugenio Velez

Center field
1. Matt Kemp
2. Tony Gwynn Jr.
3. Eugenio Velez
4. Trayvon Robinson

Right field
1. Andre Ethier
2. Xavier Paul
3. Gabe Kapler
4. Jamie Hoffmann
5. Trent Oeltjen
6. Tony Gwynn Jr.
7. Eugenio Velez

The Dodgers have given themselves plenty of options in left field, but none of them are very attractive at all. If Gibbons can post an 800 OPS against right-handers, then a platoon of him and Thames wouldn’t be too bad. However, putting those two in left would leave the Dodgers with one of the game’s worst defensive outfields. Ideally, Paul would step up and win the job. If not, the team might just be better off sticking Gwynn in center and putting defense first.

Red Sox survive back-and-forth affair with Astros, win 8-6 to take 3-1 lead in ALCS

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Game 4 of the ALCS on Wednesday night between the Red Sox and Astros was a thrilling back-and-forth affair with seven lead changes. Ultimately, the Red Sox emerged victorious with a hard-fought 7-5 victory.

The Red Sox wasted no time getting on the board, plating two runs in the top of the first inning against Charlie Morton thanks to a walk, hit-by-pitch, wild pitch, and a Rafael Devers single. In the bottom half, José Altuve hit what appeared to be a game-tying two-run home run to right field off of Rick Porcello. Mookie Betts leaped and was interfered with by fans in the stands, so Altuve was called out instead. The ruling was upheld after review.

In the bottom of the second, the Astros officially scored their first run when Carlos Correa knocked home a run with a single. The Red Sox immediately got it back when Xander Bogaerts doubled in a run in the top of the third, running the score to 3-1. In what would become a trend, the Astros also responded as George Springer drilled a solo homer and Josh Reddick hit an RBI single of his own to tie the game at 3-3. Tony Kemp added a solo homer down the right field line in the fourth to put the Astros on top for the first time. Bogaerts hit another RBI single in the top of the fifth to re-tie the game at 4-4. Correa followed suit in the bottom half, hitting his second RBI single of the game to give the Astros back the lead.

Jackie Bradley, Jr., who hit a soul-crushing grand slam off of Roberto Osuna in Game 3, hit another homer in Game 4, a two-run shot in the sixth off of Josh James. In the seventh, the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs and Lance McCullers, Jr. entered to try to put out the fire. He did not, briefly, walking Brock Holt to force in a run and make the score 7-5. McCullers did end up getting out of the inning without any further damage. Just for good measure, though, J.D. Martinez tacked on a run in the eighth with an RBI single to make it 8-5.

Ryan Brasier got five outs and Matt Barnes one in the sixth and seventh. Manager Alex Cora decided to call on Craig Kimbrel for a six-out save when the bottom of the eighth rolled around. The 2018 postseason hasn’t been kind to Kimbrel as he had given up runs in all three of his appearances. Kimbrel gave up hits to the first three batters he faced. Kemp led off with a single but he tried to stretch it into a double and was thrown out at second base by Betts. Kimbrel then hit Alex Bregman with a pitch and surrendered a double to George Springer, putting runners at second and third with one out. Altuve knocked in a run with a ground out to make it 8-6, but Kimbrel saw his way out of the inning by striking out Marwin González.

In the ninth, Cora decided to keep Kimbrel in the ballgame despite his continued struggles. Kimbrel got Yuli Gurriel to pop up to start the inning, but then issued back-to-back walks to Reddick and Correa. Kimbrel got out number two by getting Brian McCann to fly out to right field, then walked Tony Kemp to load the bases. Cora decided to stay with Kimbrel as Bregman came to the plate. Kimbrel threw a first-pitch, 97 MPH fastball that Bregman laced into shallow left field. Andrew Benintendi charged in and dived, catching the ball just in time to save the game, ending it for an 8-6 victory. Of the 18 half-innings, the two sides failed to score in only seven of them.

The Red Sox, now up three games to one in the ALCS, will try to close it out on Thursday night in Houston. If the Red Sox win, they will return to the World Series for the first time since 2013.