Dodgers New World Series Favorites With Ohtani, Glasnow In The Fold
Shohei Ohtani decided, and the betting market had the correct read. After the Dodgers were favored over the field in Shohei Ohtani odds last week, the Japanese superstar did indeed sign on to wear blue and white. Needless to say, his signing impacted MLB World Series odds. The Dodgers have emerged as consensus favorites ahead of the Braves now.
L.A. didn’t stop at grabbing Ohtani, either. They swung a Thursday night trade that added oft-injured ace Tyler Glasnow to the fold as well.
Ohtani Adds To Embarrassment of Dodger Hitting Riches
Signing Ohtani gives the Dodgers arguably three of the top 10 or so hitters in MLB. Even adding in defensive adjustments to project total value in fWAR, Ohtani, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman all check in at the top 25. Only Houston (Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman) and Atlanta (Ronald Acuna Jr., Michael Harris, Matt Olson) can say the same.
Here’s a look at the projected Dodgers lineup via Roster Resource:
- Mookie Betts
- Shohei Ohtani
- Freddie Freeman
- Will Smith
- Max Muncy
- James Outman
- Chris Taylor
- Jason Heyward/Manuel Margot
- Gavin Lux
That’s going to be tough to top, though obviously, teams like Houston, Atlanta, and Texas will be in shouting distance at least. In fact, Atlanta’s lineup may project for total WAR since almost everyone is either on the ascent or in their primes, while L.A. has several players on the wrong side of 30.
The bottom line, though, this Dodgers team should score a ton of runs. And while variance always plays a huge role in bullpen performance, L.A.’s group led MLB in fWAR last year.
Unfortunately for Dodgers fans, major question marks still exist in the starting rotation.
Still, Work To Do In Rotation
Since pitchers frequently break, it’s hard to call any pitcher a sure thing. But even by pitching standards, the Dodgers possess a distinct lack of sure things heading into 2024.
Remember that Ohtani is not expected to pitch next season as he recovers from another elbow operation.
Bringing in Glasnow helps the ceiling, no doubt. Glasnow has been one of the best pitchers in baseball when available, tallying a 3.47 ERA and peripherals that are even a tad better than that. However, “when available” is a key caveat there, as Glasnow has surpassed 100 innings just twice in six seasons.
And the Dodgers aren’t simply adding Glasnow to what they already had. Acquiring Glasnow cost them Ryan Pepiot, who looked to have finally turned the corner on his strike-throwing last year to become an above-average pitcher. He lopped off more than half of his walks, handing out just 1.07 free passes per 9 IP after an eye-popping 6.99 the prior season.
If Pepiot can hold those gains over a larger sample (42 IP), there’s a non-zero chance he outproduces Glasnow, given the latter’s lengthy injury history.
In the rest of the rotation, it’s anyone’s guess what Walker Buehler (missed 1 1/2 seasons due to major surgery) and Emmet Sheehan (below average projections, 30 command grade) can provide. Bobby Miller looks like the surest bet, but top contenders generally don’t want 25-year-old sophomores heading their rotations. We’ll see if Clayton Kershaw returns and how effective he can be at age 36.
With teams like the Phillies, Mariners, Astros and Braves boasting multiple ace-like arms, the Dodgers still have work to do to close the pitching gap with other contenders. Luckily for them, pundits consider this free agent class pitching-rich. A bet on Dodgers futures at this point is essentially a bet that they’ll add more key pieces to the rotation. But with Ohtani’s much-discussed deferred salary opening a path, they may yet do so.
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