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Los Angeles Dodgers 2019: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Los Angeles Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw

Los Angeles Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw

The Dodgers have had a great run of success — and there is no sign of it ending soon. Despite suffering a World Series hangover that had them 10 games under .500 in mid-May and second in the National League West deep into September, they won their sixth consecutive division title, made their third consecutive NL Championship Series and second consecutive World Series. The 287 games they have won in Dave Roberts’ three years as manager are tied for the fourth most any manager has ever won in his first three seasons, and they have averaged 94 wins per season during this six-year run.


But it hasn’t been good enough.


Each of the past two seasons, baseball’s World Series champion has celebrated on the field at Dodger Stadium — and it hasn’t been the home team. In 2017, the Houston Astros beat the Dodgers in a seven-game series that could have gone either way. The Dodgers pledged to get back in 2018, vowing that it would be different this time. It was. The Boston Red Sox needed just five games to claim the crown.


The World Series drought in L.A. has now reached 30 years, and a fan base spoiled by the annual division titles and deep playoff runs will accept nothing less than a championship as a success. 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Dodgers

“They’re clear division favorites again. They’ve got money, good decision-makers, good players, good prospects. Dave Roberts is the perfect guy to handle everyday players in platoon roles; he gets some strong personalities to buy in. Justin Turner takes the best at-bats on the team — when he’s up there, you feel like he’ll hit it hard and hit it in the right spot. A wild card here is Corey Seager. We know how good he can be, but after Tommy John and hip surgery, he’s gotta prove it again. Clayton Kershaw’s on a downward trend — it’s slight, but he’s definitely working harder for outs. Without his old fastball velocity, there’s not enough separation from his slider, which is not the putaway pitch it used to be. Walker Buehler throws harder than Kershaw ever did; he has four well-above-average options, plus an attitude — in a good way. I worry about Kenley Jansen allowing so many home runs, but hopefully with his heart issues behind him now, he’ll go back to being the same elite guy we’ve always known.”

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Beyond the Box Score

Making Moves The Dodgers’ 2018 roster featured uncommon depth and flexibility. Rampant platooning left the Dodgers with just two players (Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor) getting 520 plate appearances. No team in the majors pinch-hit more often (362 times) or had fewer complete games played at a position (910). Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the aggressive platooning was a product of last year’s roster, but look for the Dodgers to try and maintain similar depth and flexibility in 2019.

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The Tweeter in Chief Weighs In

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ pitching decisions were criticized frequently throughout the 2018 season. But that criticism reached a crescendo when President Trump’s Twitter account joined the chorus. Trump criticized Roberts’ decision to pull Rich Hill from World Series Game 4 with a one-hit shutout going in the seventh inning. The Dodgers’ bullpen then blew a four-run lead and lost the game. “I was surprised,” Roberts said of learning of the criticism from the president after the game, holding his tongue any further. “I was surprised.”


Stars in L.A. The Dodgers will host the 2020 All-Star Game. It will be the third midsummer classic hosted by the L.A. franchise, only the second at Dodger Stadium and the first in 40 years. One of two All-Star Games in 1959 was played at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. The 1980 game was played at Dodger Stadium, with the host team supplying four starters in the National League lineup — first baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and center fielder Reggie Smith. The NL won, 4-2, with Ken Griffey Sr. named MVP.

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Final Chase A strikeout against Giants reliever Steven Okert on Sept. 30 was the last at-bat of Chase Utley’s career. He did not make the Dodgers’ roster for any of their playoff series and retired at the end of the season. A Hall of Fame candidate, Utley played the final three-plus seasons of his 16-year career with the Dodgers after starring with the Philadelphia Phillies. He finished with a .275 career average, an .823 OPS and 259 home runs. Friedman has made it clear he would like Utley (a Southern California native who played at UCLA) to stay in the Dodgers organization in some capacity.


Another No-No In only his third MLB start, Walker Buehler threw the first six innings of a combined no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in Monterrey, Mexico, on May 4. Relievers Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore pitched one hitless inning each. It was the 23rd no-hitter in Dodgers history but the first to require more than one pitcher. It was also the first MLB no-hitter thrown outside of the United States or Canada. 


Projected Lineup

LINEUP

LF  Joc Pederson (L)
SS  Corey Seager (L)
3B  Justin Turner (R)
1B  Max Muncy (L)
RF  Cody Bellinger (L)

CF  A.J. Pollock (R)
2B  Kike Hernandez (R)
C   Austin Barnes (R)

BENCH

INF  David Freese (R)
C    Rocky Gale (R)

OF  Alex Verdugo (L)
UT  Chris Taylor (R)

ROTATION

LHP  Clayton Kershaw
RHP  Walker Buehler
LHP  Rich Hill
LHP  Hyun-Jin Ryu
RHP  Kenta Maeda

BULLPEN

RHP  Kenley Jansen (C)
RHP  Joe Kelly
RHP  Josh Fields
RHP  Tony Cingrani
RHP  Pedro Baez
LHP  Scott Alexander
RHP  Dylan Floro
RHP  Ross Stripling

2019 PREDICTION

1st NL West