The Los Angeles Dodgers have accomplished just about everything the last few years except winning a World Series. In fact, the Dodgers haven’t claimed the World Series title since Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Tommy Lasorda’s 1988 team upset the Oakland A’s.
Sportsbooks believe this is the year that will change, with the Dodgers as the clear National League favorites at +350 to win the World Series. The New York Yankees have the same odds in the American League, but Los Angeles is such a clear-cut NL favorite that no other team from the senior circuit has odds better than +1200.
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Los Angeles Dodgers 2019 Results
The Dodgers finished 50 games over .500 at 106-56 and led the NL West for 188 days, from April 13 to the end of the season. They once again fell short in October with a 3-2 series loss to the eventual World Series Champion Washington Nationals in the National League Divisional Series.
The Dodgers led that series 1-0 and 2-1 but ultimately lost Game 5 at home when Howie Kendrick hit a 10th-inning grand slam off Joe Kelly after the Nationals tied the game in the eighth with back-to-back homers off Clayton Kershaw.
While they made it to the playoffs for the seventh straight season, the NLDS loss ended the Dodgers’ streak of making it to two straight World Series and ended their run of three straight NLCS appearances.
The Dodgers were dominant at Dodger Stadium, going 59-22. They were also dominant against NL West foes, going a combined 51-25 against Arizona, Colorado, San Diego and San Francisco en route to winning the division by 21 games.
The Dodgers put five players on the NL All-Star team, and Cody Bellinger won the National League MVP and a Gold Glove. Hyun-Jin Ryu finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting while Kershaw and Walker Buehler were also in the top 10. Skipper Dave Roberts finished fourth in the Manager of the Year voting.
Los Angeles Dodgers Key Additions
Team President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman made a big splash this offseason when he pulled off a three-team trade and brought 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts and former Cy Young winner David Price to Los Angeles. He sent young outfielder Alex Verdugo and prospect Jeter Downs to Boston while pitcher Kenta Maeda went to Minnesota.
Betts is a big prize. The 27-year-old hit .295/.391/.524 in Boston with 29 homers, 40 doubles, 80 RBI, 16 steals, and a league-high 135 runs scored.
In 2018, he led the AL in runs, batting average and slugging as he won the MVP at .346/.428/.640 with 32 homers and 47 doubles.
Price was slated to be in Dodgers’ No. 2 or 3 starter but decided to opt-out and skip the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dodgers also got pitcher Brusdar Graterol from the Twins in the deal. A 21-year-old right-hander, Graterol pitched 10 times as a rookie in 2019, going 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA.
In the Minor Leagues, he was 7-0 with a 1.92 ERA in 18 games and 11 starts while striking out 61 in 61 innings.
In free agency, the Dodgers signed pitchers Alex Wood, Jimmy Nelson, and Blake Treinen, though Nelson will miss 2020 with back surgery.
Wood made seven starts in Cincinnati, going 1-3 with a 5.80 ERA. He was an All-Star for the Dodgers in 2017, going 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 25 starts, then followed that with a 9-7 season with a 3.68 ERA in 27 starts.
Treinen, a reliever, was an All-Star with Oakland in 2018 when he went 9-2 with a 0.78 ERA and 38 saves in 68 appearances. However, he lost the closer job in 2019 with 16 saves while going 6-5 and posting a 4.91 ERA in 57 games.
Los Angeles Dodgers Big Losses
In the trade with the Red Sox and Twins, the Dodgers lost Verdugo and Maeda. Verdugo played 106 games batting .294/.342/.475 with 12 homers, 22 doubles, and 44 RBI.
Maeda, 32, had a bit of a down year, going 10-8 with a 4.04 ERA in 26 starts. He also pitched out of the bullpen and earned three saves.
The biggest loss came through free agency, as the Dodgers allowed Ryu to walk to Toronto after an All-Star and Cy Young-caliber season. The lefty went 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA in 29 starts while striking out 163 over 182 2/3 innings.
Another lefty is gone, as the oft-injured Rich Hill signed with the Twins. Hill made 13 starts in 2019, going 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA, but he also turned 40 in the offseason.
David Freese retired after batting .315/.403/.599 in 79 games with 11 homers and 29 RBI.
Backup catcher Russell Martin has yet to sign with an MLB team. He played in 83 games as a 36-year-old, batting .220/.337/.330 with six homers and 20 RBI.
Los Angeles Dodgers Pitching
He may not be as dominating as he was from 2011-17, but Kershaw isl an intimidating presence as the Dodgers’ ace. As a 31-year-old, the lefty went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA over 28 starts while striking out 189 batters over 178 innings.
Kershaw is closing in on 2,500 career strikeouts and has posted a 169-74 record with a 2.44 ERA in 12 seasons with the Dodgers.
Numbers-wise, the No, 2 pitcher is youngster Walker Buehler, but he is limited innings-wise in camp and probably won’t be a full starter until early August. The 25-year-old went 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 30 starts while striking out a team-best 215 batters.
Wood will slot in as the third starter, and the Dodgers are hopeful a return to familiar scenery will bring back the Alex Wood of 2017.
The Dodgers have been waiting to see what they have in lefty Julio Urias, who is 23 years old. He started eight times in 37 appearances and went 4-3 with a 2.49 ERA while striking out 9.6 batters per nine innings.
Right-hander Ross Stripling went 4-4 with a 3.47 ERA in 15 starts and 32 overall outings. He struck out 93 over 90 2/3 innings, and with Price opting out, he’s in line to move back into the rotation.
Closer Kenley Jansen uncharacteristically struggled land was late in arriving at a summer camp in July after testing positive for the coronavirus last month. He was 5-3 with 33 saves in 62 games while posing a 3.71 ERA.
Pedro Baez gave the Dodgers a spectacular season out of the bullpen, going 7-2 with a 3.10 ERA in a team-leading 71 appearances. He struck out 69 batters in 69 innings while recording one save.
Youngster Dustin May can be a swing guy, either working as a starter or possibly as a piggy-back pitcher with Buehler or Urias. As a 21-year-old, he was 2-3 at the MLB level in 14 games with a 3.63 ERA.
Graterol can also start as he did throughout the minors in the Twins system. Joining Treinen in the bullpen is hard-throwing Joe Kelly, who was 5-4 with a 4.56 ERA in 55 outings in 2019.
Los Angeles Dodgers Offense
Roberts has the luxury of a talented lineup and experienced bench. He will move players around in the field and the lineup, but a typical Dodgers lineup should look something like this: Mookie Betts RF, Max Muncy 1B, Justin Turner 3B, Cody Bellinger CF, Joc Pederson DH, Corey Seager SS, AJ Pollock LF, Will Smith C, Gavin Lux 2B.
Betts’ game should translate perfectly to the National League and Dodger Stadium, and he adds four straight Gold Glove Awards to the right-field side of Bellinger.
Muncy was an All-Star at first base, batting .251/.374/.515 with 35 home runs, 98 RBI, 101 runs scored, and 22 doubles. He’s a perfect number two-hitter as well with 90 walks.
Turner will be a free agent after the season, so this could be his last run in Dodger blue As a 34-year-old, Turner hit .290/.372/.509 with 27 homers, 24 doubles, and 67 RBI.
Bellinger won the MVP Award with a monster season as a 23-year-old. The left-handed-hitting center fielder hit .305/.406/.629 with 47 home runs, 115 RBI, 121 runs scored, 34 doubles and 15 steals.
Seager came back from injury to play in 134 games, batting .272/.335/.483, and he led the NL with 44 doubles. Seager hit 19 homers, drove in 87 runs, and scored 82 times.
Pederson hit .249/.339/.538 with 36 homers and 74 RBI, while Pollock played in 86 games, batting .266/.327/.468 with 15 homers and 47 RBI.
Smith played in 54 games, hitting .253/.337/.571 with 15 homers and 42 RBI. Austin Barnes played 75 games behind the plate, batting .203/.293/.340 with five homers.
Lux was a 21-year-old rookie with 23 games at second base. The top prospect hit .240/.305/.400 with two homers, four doubles, and nine RBI.
With the designated hitter spot universal this year, Roberts has more opportunities to include the likes of Chris Taylor (.262/.333/.462 12 HR) and Kiki Hernandez (.237/.304/.411 17 HR) in the lineup, as both can play the infield and outfield.
Los Angeles Dodgers Three Key Players
Betts got his big contract and now he needs to deliver a ring.
The Dodgers had four starters last year who combined for 100 starts and a 2.82 ERA, but the bullpen was shaky. In a short 60-game season and then in October, they need to get more out of Jansen. He’s beaten COVID-19 and is looking to bounce back from a career-worst eight blown saves and the highest ERA of his career.
The Dodgers need Buehler to be 100% at the end of the year. He can be the 1-2 punch with Kershaw in a shortened series, and the lefty-righty duo could conceivably make five starts in a seven-game series.
Los Angeles Dodgers Schedule Breakdown
The Dodgers will play 40 games against NL West opponents and 20 interleague games against AL West opponents.
The Dodgers start with the rival Giants and play San Francisco seven times at home in 2020. They will travel to Arizona seven times and end the season with six games at home against the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels.
The Dodgers and Angels meet six times, three in each park. Last year, the Dodgers went 0-4 against their cross-town rivals. The Dodgers also play twice in each park against the Astros in a 2017 World Series rematch.
Given their division and schedule, it’s tough to create a scenario where the Dodgers’ playoff streak ends. They will look to be healthy and playing their best in October