Through August 25, the Los Angeles Dodgers were on a historic pace. They were 91-36 and seemed all but certain to break the Mariners’ 116 single season win record. Then things went south, they lost 16 of 17, but rebounded to close out the season with 104-wins.
Perhaps the slide helped as, for the first time in nearly 30 years, the Dodgers went all the way to the World Series, falling short of the title by a single game.
Now, the Dodgers are on a mission. After just missing out on glory, the Dodgers will try to win the World Series on the 30th anniversary season of their last championship.
Few teams in baseball are as deep as the Dodgers, but is that enough to get them back to the Fall Classic?
2017 Record: 104-58
2017 Moneyline Record: +6.98 Units
2017 Over/Under Total Record: 78-79-5
Current Odds To Win NL: +333
Current Odds To Win NL West: -205
Regular Season Win Total: 95.5
Trying to repeat as the NL pennant winner is off to a rocky start as Justin Turner just went down with a broken wrist. He isn’t expected to miss too much time, but he was crucial to the team’s success last year with a .322 average and .945 OPS. Of course, he only played 130 games in 2017 so they survived without him for nearly a month’s worth of games last year, too.
In Turner’s absence, Logan Forsythe figures to slide over to the hot corner, opening second base for a platoon with Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez. That in turn, opens a few more outfield at-bats as Dave Roberts’ has a very flexible roster.
Even with Turner out, this roster is deep in position players. Chris Taylor broke out last year and will lead off for the team with Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig behind him. Seager is already one of the top shortstops in the game while Bellinger is coming off an NL Rookie of the Year season with 39 homers in 132 games. He’ll get a full season in 2018 and a chance to belt 40.
In 2017, the Dodgers had six different players hit at least 20 homers and nine different players with at least 20 doubles. As a team, the Dodgers were sixth in the NL in runs scored with 770 and fifth in OPS at .771.
Around the diamond, the Dodgers have a plethora of different options designed to keep players well rested and performing at their peak.
Behind the plate both Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes could easily start for most other teams while Barnes also provides insurance in the infield as does Hernandez and Utley. Around the horn, the starters all rank amongst the best in the game at their position. In the outfield, Taylor, Puig, Joc Pederson and Matt Kemp are all starter level talents.
Generally, this offensive team—save the addition of Kemp—is much the same one that dominated the NL West last year. While the injury to Turner is worth watching, it’s easy to expect this offense to thrive again in 2018.
On the mound, the Dodgers were elite last year with a 3.38 team ERA. Both the rotation and bullpen topped the NL.
When talking about Dodger pitching, the conversation must start with Clayton Kershaw. Arguably the best pitcher in the game, Kershaw has been limited in recent seasons by injury, but when he’s on the mound, he’s still dynamic.
He’s already amassed 60.6 WAR in 10 seasons and has a career winning percentage of .692, career ERA of 2.36 and career WIP of 1.002. He’s led the NL in ERA five times, including in 2017. He’s led in WHIP four times and is a three-time Cy Young Award winner. He’s finished in the top-3 in voting six times, coming in second last year when he led the league in wins, ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio despite starting only 27 games.
After Kershaw, the Dodgers have Alex Wood, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, and Hyun-jin Ryu. That’s a lot of southpaws again.
L.A. was a deeper rotation in 2017, but lost Yu Darvish to free agency and shipped off a couple other arms to Atlanta in a cost cutting measure to get under the luxury tax threshold. The Dodgers’ front office expertly navigated the DL last year to balance a deep rotation with limited optionable pieces.
While not quite as deep, the Dodgers’ 2018 rotation should remain effective. Of the five slated to start in the rotation, Maeda was the only one with an ERA north of four last season. He was 13-6 with a 4.22 ERA. He and Ryu will be depended on to give quality starts and keep the team in the game while it’ll be up to Kershaw, Wood and Hill to lead the rotation. As for Hill and Wood, there are questions. Hill has become a five-inning pitcher while Wood was much better in the first half than the second half in 2017.
Still, at this point, any complaints about the rotation is merely nitpicking. There are five quality major league arms ready to take the hill every fifth day for the Dodgers.
In the bullpen, the Dodgers have the best closer in baseball in Kenley Jansen. The flame thrower had a 1.32 ERA and 0.746 WHIP last year in 68.1 innings. He struck out 109 batters, walking just seven. He boasted a 14.4 K/9 and 15.57 SO/W. You can’t get much better than that.
Getting to Jansen has been a problem in recent seasons, but Brandon Morrow solved those last year. He, however, is closing out games in Chicago now, leaving the set-up role to Pedro Baez, Scott Alexander and Tony Cingrani. If the team has an Achilles Heel, this is it, though there are still enough options coming off good years to expect at least a competent pen leading to Jansen.
In the end, this team has deep depth. They’re good, they can withstand injuries—including to Turner—and they are certainly the favorites to win the NL West, again.
|Baltimore Orioles||Baltimore, Maryland||Oriole Park at Camden Yards|
|Boston Red Sox||Boston, Massachusetts||Fenway Park|
|New York Yankees||New York City, New York||Yankee Stadium|
|Tampa Bay Rays||St. Petersburg, Florida||Tropicana Field|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Toronto, Ontario||Rogers Centre|
|CENTRAL||Chicago White Sox||Chicago, Illinois||Guaranteed Rate Field|
|Cleveland Indians||Cleveland, Ohio||Progressive Field|
|Detroit Tigers||Detroit, Michigan||Comerica Park|
|Kansas City Royals||Kansas City, Missouri||Kauffman Stadium|
|Minnesota Twins||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Target Field|
|WEST||Houston Astros||Houston, Texas||Minute Maid Park|
|Los Angeles Angels||Anaheim, California||Angel Stadium|
|Oakland Athletics||Oakland, California||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum|
|Seattle Mariners||Seattle, Washington||Safeco Field|
|Texas Rangers||Arlington, Texas||Globe Life Park in Arlington|
|EAST||Atlanta Braves||Atlanta, Georgia||SunTrust Park|
|Miami Marlins||Miami, Florida||Marlins Park|
|New York Mets||New York City, New York||Citi Field|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Citizens Bank Park|
|Washington Nationals||Washington, D.C.||Nationals Park|
|CENTRAL||Chicago Cubs||Chicago, Illinois||Wrigley Field|
|Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati, Ohio||Great American Ball Park|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Miller Park|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||PNC Park|
|St. Louis Cardinals||St. Louis, Missouri||Busch Stadium|
|WEST||Arizona Diamondbacks||Phoenix, Arizona||Chase Field|
|Colorado Rockies||Denver, Colorado||Coors Field|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Los Angeles, California||Dodger Stadium|
|San Diego Padres||San Diego, California||Petco Park|
|San Francisco Giants||San Francisco, California||AT&T Park|
March 29-April 1: vs San Francisco Giants
April 2-3: at Arizona Diamondbacks
April 6-8: at San Francisco Giants
April 10-11: vs Oakland Athletics
April 13-15: vs Arizona Diamondbacks
April 16-18: at San Diego Padres
April 20-22: vs Washington Nationals
April 23-26: vs Miami Marlins
April 27-29: at San Francisco Giants
April 30-May 3: at Arizona Diamondbacks
The Dodgers will spend the 2018 season defending their NL West crown and trying to get back to the Fall Classic. What better way to start than a month full of division play?
Amongst the most exhilarating rivalries in the sport is the one between the Dodgers and Giants. It dates to a time when both teams played in New York and has continued from the east coast to the west. In 2018, the two rivals play three separate series in the month of April with San Francisco hosting two of the three.
San Fran finished dead last in the NL a season ago, but reloaded rather than rebuilt. They’re always a dangerous team for the Dodgers—particularly on even-years—and will be a tough matchup again.
The Dodgers continue the NL West theme with three series with the Diamondbacks and one with the Padres. They don’t play the Rockies until later in the season. Amongst the out of division series, the Dodgers get the Nationals, Athletics and Marlins. Oakland and Miami offer nice reprieves, but Washington is one of the biggest threats to unseat Los Angeles in the National League.
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