Los Angeles Dodgers
The defending National League champions were pegged to be runaway favorites in the NL West, but like the Astros in the AL West, reality hasn't quite comported with preseason assessments. Thanks largely to injuries to key players, rather than running away with things, LA is in a three-team dogfight for their division, recently losing first place standing to Arizona and shuffling between second and third with Colorado.
Third baseman and postseason hero Justin Turner has been limited by first a broken wrist and then a hip issue to just over 200 at-bats so far this year (but has been playing regularly the last couple of weeks) and the superstar shortstop known as Kyle Seager's Brother was lost for the season back in April and is now recovering from Tommy John surgery. That's a lot of production lost, and a plethora of shorter-term wounds and ailments have made the Dodger disabled list a crowded club. In addition to Seager, ten Dodgers are currently on the shelf, including closer Kenley Jansen (irregular heartbeat); relievers Josh Fields (shoulder), Tony Cingrani (shoulder), and John Axford (broken leg); infielder Chase Utley (wrist); and starting pitcher Ross Stripling (back). Starters Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Walker Buehler, and Hyun-jin Ryu, as well as outfielder Yasiel Puig, have all also lost time to the DL, and yet the Dodgers are so deep—and have such deep pockets—that they've been in the thick of things all season. Their biggest midseason acquisition, infielder Manny Machado, has more than adequately filled the hole left by Seager and they upgraded at second base at the trading deadline with former Twin Brian Dozier. (They also temporarily added to their bullpen with Axford, but he only made three appearances before joining the DL squad.)
The big threats in the LA lineup are exactly who you'd expect: Machado, Turner, and All-Star Matt Kemp. In addition, Dozier, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal, and, of course, Puig can all go deep at any time; the Dodgers as a whole lead the National League in home runs, though only Muncy is in the top ten individually. On the mound, Kershaw is still one of the best despite his injury-limited season numbers, and the rest of the rotation has great control and impressive strikeout totals. The bullpen is less formidable because of all the injuries, but even without their top three relievers it's a group that can hold its own.
|WADE LeBLANC VS. LAD (CAREER)
|rest of team||10||.100||.200||.100||0||0|
|Erasmo Ramírez vs. LAD (Career)
|rest of team||10||.000||.100||.000||0||0|
|Marco Gonzales Vs. LAD (Career)
|rest of team||1||.000||.000||.000||0||0|
|WALKER BUEHLER VS. SEA (CAREER)
|rest of team||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|Rich Hill vs. Sea (Career)
|rest of team||11||.000||.091||.000||0||0|
|Clayton Kershaw vs. Sea (Career)
|rest of team||10||.000||.200||.000||0||0|
Players to Watch
Brian Dozier: The former Gold Glove second baseman was obtained from the Twins in late July, swapped for fellow 2B Logan Forsythe. Dozier offers an offensive upgrade, but his production has not been close to what we saw in 2017. He has been better since arriving in LA, and shouldn't be underestimated because of his .230 batting average.
Rich Hill: Whatever uniform the 38-year-old veteran wears, he always seems to be a thorn in the side of the Mariners. In his long career, he has faced the M's in 11 games and posted a 4-0 record and 1.35 ERA. He was especially nasty as a member of the Athletics, for whom he put up a minuscule 0.64 ERA and a 16:0 K:BB ratio against Seattle. At Safeco Field it's even worse—Hill has allowed just one earned run to the M's in 23 innings pitched at the corner of Edgar & Dave.
Max Muncy: A power hitter with a .370+ on-base mark, Muncy would likely be an everyday player in the American League as a DH. But in the NL he needs to field a position, and that is not, shall we say, a strength for the former Oakland A (13 errors this year). Playing part-time, mostly as a corner infielder, Muncy has belted a home run for every 14 times up to the plate, a slightly better rate than that of Nelson Cruz.
Dave Roberts: In 2016, he won National League Manager of the Year. Last year he took his team to the World Series. Now in his third year managing the Dodgers, what does he do for an encore? If LA misses the postseason, there will undoubtedly be speculation and drama around Roberts' future, but he's proved himself to be as well-suited to his gig as anyone could be expected to, handling a variety of personalities and big egos in four different languages and getting whatever personnel he has that isn't on the disabled list to perform. Some Dodger fans are already screaming for his head, though, as they've discovered that closer Kenley Jansen, now on the DL, is hard to replace. Harsh criticism of Roberts' bullpen maneuvers without Jansen may or may not be warranted, but the guy has won 260 games in less than three years at the helm, so he must be doing something right.
Chris Taylor: When he was here, we knew Chris Taylor as an OK guy off the bench that could fill in at the middle infield once in a while. He appeared in 86 games for the Mariners in 2014-2016, spending a lot of time riding the Tacoma shuttle. He was clearly too good for Triple-A, but only hit .240/.296/.296 for Seattle and was thus considered expendable. The M's traded Taylor to the Dodgers for pitcher Zach Lee, who was later lost to a waiver claim and is now toiling in the Rays' minor-league system. Meanwhile, Taylor was a huge part of last year's pennant-winning Dodger team, seamlessly moving between shortstop and center field as needed and getting on base at a .354 clip, most often from the leadoff spot. He was also co-MVP of the National League Championship Series with a 1.248 OPS against the Cubs. Not bad for an expendable bench guy traded for essentially nothing.
His overall numbers are down a bit in 2018, but given LA's injury-ridden campaign, his versatility has been key once again. In a sort of bizarro-Ryon Healy split, Taylor hasn't done well in afternoon games, but shines at night. Day games: .190/.256/.322; under the lights: .270/.346/.476.
|Los Angeles Dodgers||(1958 - present)|
|World Champions:||1955, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, 1988,|
|League Champions:||1889, 1890, 1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 2017|
|Division Titles:||1983, 1985, 1995, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016|