The Dodgers’ offseason aggression left no ambiguity as to what it will take for the proud franchise to consider 2020 a success. Los Angeles finally corralled star outfielder Mookie Betts from the Red Sox in a trade, then watched with what had to be creeping horror as the very real possibility the season would be wiped out hung over them for months. A cancelled 2020 campaign would have left the door open for Betts never playing a single inning for the Blue Crew, but as of July 22, they’ve now secured his services for the next 12 seasons with a mammoth $365 million extension.
Betts will provide elite power for a leadoff hitter and will helm a lineup that returns all of the major offensive components that helped produce a 106-win campaign in 2019. A bit of good fortune intervened to make that possible, as a trade of Joc Pederson – who slugged 36 homers last season — to the Angels was subsequently nullified due to its attachment to the original version of the Betts trade, which fell through. Cody Bellinger, the reigning NL MVP, will once again operate out of the heart of the order after crushing a career-high 47 home runs in 2019.
While that trio is already quite formidable, the scary part for the rest of the division, National League and MLB as a whole is that there’s a plethora of other potent bats in LA’s batting order. Max Muncy has gone from a washout as an Athletics prospect to back-to-back 35-homer seasons with the Dodgers. Justin Turner bounced back from a drop to 14 round trippers in 2018 by equaling his career high with 27 last season. Corey Seager has never quite been able to replicate his spectacular 2016 rookie campaign (.308/.365/.512, 26 HR, 72 RBI), but he still an above-average hitter who generated a solid .272/.335/.483 slash over 541 plate appearances a year ago. Elite prospect Gavin Lux will look to build on an initial cup of coffee last season in which he slashed .205/.305/.400 with a pair of homers in 23 games.
As nightmarish as the lineup might be for the opposition, it won’t get any easier when the Dodgers go on defense. That’s when an impressive starting rotation helmed by Clayton Kershaw will go to work. The decision of David Price to sit out the season due to coronavirus concerns does thin out the depth to an extent, but No. 2 and No. 3 starters Walker Buehler and Julio Urias both carry considerable upside. Projected No. 4 Alex Wood had a forgettable one season away in Cincinnati, but he returns to a franchise with which he posted a combined 25-10 record over the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Prospect Dustin May appears set to get a crack at the No. 5 job now that Price is out of the equation, but if he doesn’t prove suitable, manager Dave Roberts has the luxury of turning to Ross Stripling, who’s logged 52 starts over the last four seasons.
An example of how a wager on the Dodgers winning the NL West would pay out at the current odds listed above is as follows:
Wager amount: $10.00
Division winner odds: (DraftKings Sportsbook): -715
Payout: $11.40: ($1.40 + original $10.00 bet amount)
Dodgers odds: Futures
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodgers betting breakdown
2019 Record: 106-56 (Division champion)
Key losses: RHP Kenta Maeda, LHP Rich Hill, RHP Yimi Garcia, C Russel Martin, LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, RHP Casey Sandler, OF Alex Verdugo
Key injuries: LHP David Price (COVID-19 precaution)
Key additions: RF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price, RHP Brusdar Graterol, RHP Jimmy Nelson, RHP Edubray Ramos, RHP Blake Treinen, LHP Alex Wood
- RF Mookie Betts (R)
- 1B Max Muncy (L)
- 3B Justin Turner (R)
- CF Cody Bellinger (L)
- SS Corey Seager (L)
- LF Joc Pederson (L)
- DH Matt Beaty (L)
- C Will Smith (R)
- 2B Gavin Lux (L)
Projected rotation: LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Walker Buehler, LHP Julio Urias, LHP Alex Wood, LHP Dustin May or RHP Ross Stripling
Projected closer: RHP Kenley Jansen
Bullpen strengths: Closer Kenley Jansen took a bit of a step back in 2019 with a 3.71 ERA, 80 SO and 33 saves in 63.0 IP. But he improved in FIP (3.48), strikeout rate (30.4 percent), swstr% (15.7) from 2018 (PitcherList). Pedro Baez will be the main setup man again in 2020. Baez is coming off a 2019 in which he produced a 3.10 ERA, 3.52 FIP and a 0.95 WHIP. Baez threw a four-seam fastball 51% of the time, a changeup on 32% of his pitches and a slider on 17% of his offerings. Ross Stripling had another solid season mostly as a middle reliever. Stripling posted a 3.02 ERA in 2018 with 136 SO and followed it up with a 3.47 ERA and 93 SO in 2019. The swingman pitcher was an innings eater with 122.0 IP in 33 games in ‘18 and 90.2 IP in 32 games in ‘19.
Bullpen weaknesses: Joe Kelly had a bit of an inconsistent 2019, going 5-4 with a 4.56 ERA, compared to his 4.39 figure in 2018. Kelly had 62 SO and 13 game finished in 55 appearances. Kelly did post a career high K rate of 27.4%. Blake Treinen took a step back after an insane 2018. Treinen’s ERA went from 0.78 (68 games) in ‘18 to 4.91 (57 games) in ‘19. His strikeouts dipped from 100 to 59, while his saves declined from 38 to 16.
Key stats from 2019
- P Kenley Jansen threw his cutter 74% of the time in 2019 (PitcherList).
- P Ross Stripling’s curveball had a 33.3% Whiff rate and a 27.1% put away rate (PitcherList).
- The Dodgers have won more games than any other MLB team since 2015 and have zero World Series titles to show for it. It has been 32 years since their last title. 2019 marked the Dodgers’ 7th straight NL West crown.
- Cody Bellinger won the NL MVP in 2019, hitting .305/.406/.629 with 47 HR’s and 115 RBIs.
- Dodger Stadium underwent $100 million renovations this offseason.