The Los Angeles Dodgers have been expecting to win a World Series for a few years now, only to come up short in the playoffs on a consistent basis. Although they have always done a good job in the regular season, Clayton Kershaw and company have found ways to give it all up when it matters most. With the highest payroll in all of baseball, it would be a surprise not to see them in the playoff race yet again in 2016. The problem is that it's an even year so the San Francisco Giants could be a problem. Plus, we can't forget that the Arizona Diamondbacks might have had the most impactful offseason in all of baseball including the signing of Zack Grienke, so the Dodgers will have their work cut out for them.
Kenta Maeda, Scott Kazmir, Frankie Montas, Trayce Thompson, Micah Johnson, Brooks Brown, Elian Herrera, Charlie Culberson, Omar Estevez, Rob Segedin, Erick Mejia, Rico Noel, Yuniel Diaz, Alex Hassan, Yasiel Sierra, Lisalverto Bonilla, Adrian Salcedo, Jordan Schafer
Zack Grienke, Scott Schebler, Jose Peraza, Jimmy Rollins, Justin Ruggiano, Chris Heisey, Juan Nicasio, Jim Johnson, Bronson Arroyo, Brandon Dixon, Joel Peralta, Monald Torreyes, Daniel Fields, Joe Wieland, Tyler Olson, Danny Reynolds
Biggest Strength - Depth Everywhere
This team is starting the season with almost ten guys who would normally be on their MLB roster on the DL. The thing about it is that the team still looks good minus these ten guys. The Dodgers have done a great job making sure that they have tons of options to go around at every position, and to be honest, they have no excuse not to because they have by far the highest payroll in the MLB. If you look at the pitching staff alone, it doesn't look as dominat as last season because Zack Grienke is gone, but they are literally 8 or 9 guys deep with guys who have had success starting games at the MLB level. That's not even including guys like Julio Urias and Frankie Montas who are looking close to ready to make the jump up to the bigs. Trayce Thompson played well for the Chicago White Sox at the end of the season last year and played almost every day. For the Dodgers, he will serve as the fifth outfielder to start the season, and that's only because Andre Either and Alex Guerrero will be on the DL to start the year. The team is so loaded, that the second string team could probably compete in the MLB.
Biggest Weakness - Lineup
Although the depth is great on this team, the lineup doesn't look as good as one would expect from the top payroll in the league. There are actually a lot of question marks about the lineup. Do we know if Yasiel Puig is going to be consistently productive at any point in his career? What about Joc Pederson, has he figured out how to not strike out one third of the time? Justin Turner has been a part time player his entire career, will he be expected to play third every day and can he produce the same way he did last year? All are valid questions. We can't forget that they do have Adrian Gonzalez sitting in the middle of the lineup and he's been one of the more consistent producers in the game for a decade. Corey Seager actually has a legitimate chance to be the best offensive player for the team this year and his upside is pretty nice. The lineup will also look a lot better when they get Yasmani Grandal back in there instead of AJ Ellis. And it's about time they just played Scott Van Slyke instead of Carl Crawford, there's another big boost in offense if you're looking for it.
Something to keep an eye on - Julio Urias
Now, the Dodgers obviously have no reason to rush their top prospect up to the big leagues due to their pitching depth, but Urias might be good enough to force managements hand and he's only 19 years old. Urias has been in the Dodgers system since he was 16 years old and has pretty much dominated every level up until he got a couple AAA starts at the end of the year last year where he did have some growing pains. Julio is universally regarded as a future ace and has all the tools to do it. The chances of him getting the call in 2016 are probably lower than 50%, but he will spend the year making a case for him to open the year in 2017 on the big league club at the age of 20.
Projected Lineup… Lefties*… Switch Hitters^
- Howie Kendrick - 2B
- Corey Seager* - SS
- Justin Turner - 3B
- Adrian Gonzalez* - 1B
- Yasiel Puig - RF
- Joc Pederson* - CF
- AJ Ellis - C
- Carl Crawford* - LF
Austin Barnes, Scott Van Slyke, Chase Utley*, Kike Hernandez, Trayce Thompson
Projected Rotation… Lefties*
- Clayton Kershaw*
- Kenta Maeda
- Scott Kazmir*
- Alex Wood*
- Carlos Frias
Kenley Jansen - Closer, Chris Hatcher, Pedro Baez, JP Howell*, Louis Coleman, Luis Avilan*, Joe Blanton
Starting Season on DL
Yasmani Grandal^, Alex Guerrero, Andre Either*, Brett Anderson*, Mike Bolsinger, Brandon McCarthy, Frankie Montas, Hyun-jin Ryu*, Josh Ravin
Fantasy Bargain - Alex Wood
2015 was weird for Alex Wood. He had his worst season in his professional career thus far and part of that was probably because he was hurt part of the time. He also got traded and was asked to pitch both as a starter and in relief so he had a bit of a hard time getting comfortable. Fact of the matter is that his season actually wasn't that bad, even though it was such a down year for him. This year, Wood will get a chance to start the year in the rotation for the Dodgers and will get all of spring training to feel comfortable with his somewhat new team. Alex should return back to where he was before 2015 which is an above average strike out pitcher who puts up an ERA near 3 even. In 2014 he almost struck out a batter an inning and finished the season with a 2.78 ERA in 171 innings. People are overlooking him, so you should snag him when he falls. The Braves messed up by trading Alex Wood - he would be their best pitcher if he was still there.
Overrated Fantasy Option - Yasiel Puig
So we're now three years into Puig's major league career and he has never hit 20 home runs in a season. He has actually shown a steady decline in offensive production with a fairly large drop off last season. This could be a make or break year for Puig and many don't know what to expect out of him. Best case scenario if he stays healthy and received full playing time would be about 20 homers and 10 steals. Might be safer to let someone else deal with the unstable Puig as he has shown that the upside isn't quite what we thought it might be.
The Dodgers are in a rat race with the Diamondbacks and the Giants to win the NL West. The two losers have a good chance of being the two wildcard teams. If and when the playoff run happens, Clayton Kershaw absolutely needs to figure his stuff out and stay as dominant as he can be in the regular season. Also, if guys like Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson can be the good versions of themselves, it could go a very long way in helping this team be successful. Overall, the Dodgers are probably good for about 90 wins and a fierce competition down to the wire for the division.