MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL MLB

Los Angeles Dodgers Heavy Favorites To Win NL Pennant & World Series

March 14, 2020

Image result for mookie betts
Photo: Mookie Betts | NY Post

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been on the doorstep of a World Series over the last three seasons. In 2019, They won the most games (106) in the team’s 136-year history, but LA lost in the league division series. The Dodgers made the postseason each of their previous seven years while winning the NL West each time and two trips to the World Series. They have six titles (1955, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, and 1987 with 33 postseason appearances. Despite their almost annual status as the NL favorite, the Dodgers still haven’t won a title since 1988.

Los Angeles had the best ERA (3.37) in the majors with 18 shutouts and 44 saves. They moved to fifth in runs (886), fourth in home runs (279), and fourth in RBI (861).

The Dodgers have a real chance to win 107 games this season.

The Dodgers acquired All-Star OF Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox while also getting SP David Price. They gave up IF Jeter Downs, OF Alex Verdugo, and C Connor Wong in the deal with the Red Sox.

Betts, age 27 and the 2018 AL MVP, is scheduled to become a free agent after the season, and he’s expected to seek a market value contract. Given his age and performance, he could command upward of $400 million. At the very least, Mookie is a $300 million player, and the Dodgers figured to be among his top free agent suitors even before the trade.

Betts has had a dominate career thus far. His batting average in 2018 (.346) while offering a top-shelf floor in runs over the previous four years (122, 101, 129, and 135). His average hit rate (1.778) falls in a 30-home run range while his wide swings in his batting average are tied to his contact batting average (2017 – .302, 2018 – .420, and 2019 – .355).

A.J. Pollock, who signed a four-year, $55 million deal before the 2019 season, is one of the quartet of outfielder behind Betts, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson.

In another deal, SP Kenta Maeda went to the Twins for RP Brusdar Graterol. LA signed SP Alex Wood, SP Jimmy Nelsen, and RP Blake Treinen.

Even though the Dodgers lost two starters to free agency Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu and a third via trade Kenta Maeda, the staff will still be as strong as ever.

The pitching staff is led by lefty All-Star Clayton Kershaw and young right-hander Walker Buehler who in 2019 posted a 3.26 ERA and 1.042 WHIP.

The acquisition of David Price, 34, battled wrist trouble last season and is owed $96 million through 2022. He was excellent as recently as 2018 — Price was magnificent during Boston’s run to the World Series title — and the Dodgers get him at half-cost.

Rounding out the starter will be Julio Urías, still just 23, the lefthander could be a No. 2 starter anywhere else in the league, but he will be the No. 4 starter for the Dodgers after a solid 2019, 9.6 K/9, 1.079 WHIP. Alex Wood will be the fifth starter for the club. Wood has recorded an ERA below 4.00 in each of his seven big-league seasons except for his injury-filled campaign with the Reds last year.

The acquisition of David Price, 34, battled wrist trouble last season and is owed $96 million through 2022. He was excellent as recently as 2018. Price was magnificent during Boston’s run to the World Series title and the Dodgers get him at half-price.

The bullpen has been a concern for the Dodgers especially in the post-season, could get a boost if Blake Treinen, signed from Oakland to a one-year, $10 million deal, finds the form that made him the game’s best closer in 2018.

Treinen is not the only end of game reliver, long time closer Kenley Jansen, who had a career-high 3.71 ERA last year and blew eight saves is still there. If the right-hander can get some of his velocity back and strike out some more hitters along the way, he’ll bounce back to elite closer status. He’s currently is still a top ten closer.

Joe Kelley found his velocity and control along the way in the 2019 season. He became the set up man for Jansen and at times closed. Add Kelley to Treinen and Jansen it doesn’t get much better than that in baseball.

There is more in the pen for the Dodger, the 31-year-old Pedro Baez was once again one of the most dependable and important arms in the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2019, compiling a 3.10 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 69/23 K/BB ratio across 69 2/3 innings in his 71 appearances.

The rest of the staff includes names like Ross Stripling, Scott Alexander, Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson, and a host of other reliable arms.

If the Dodgers really need help at the trade deadline, they have the arms and farm systems to go after a top arm like Noah Syndergaard.

Projected opening day starting lineup:

Mookie Betts, RF

Corey Seager, SS

Justin Turner, 3B

Cody Bellinger, CF

Max Muncy, 1B

AJ Pollock, LF

Gavin Lux, 2B

Will Smith, C

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