Los Angeles Dodgers
Remember the Mariners' great season of twenty years ago, the year when it felt like they would never lose as they steamrolled to a record-tying 116 wins? Well, that's the kind of year the Los Angeles Dodgers have begun, except in their case it's not such a surprise. It's only April, of course, and in baseball anything can happen to derail expectations, but if this Dodger team makes a run at that 116-win record it won't be a shocker. At 13-3 they're having the best start of any Dodger club since the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers started their season winning 22 of 24.
This team is loaded. Lineup top to bottom, starters one through five, relief corps, all top-level groups. Superstars Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger lead an offensive juggernaut that includes Kyle Seager's little brother Corey, Max Muncy, Justin Turner, and A.J. Pollock, all former All-Stars. (The Mariners won't have to deal with Bellinger in this series, at least, as he's on the injured list with a fractured tibia.) The starting rotation is so good that David Price is relegated to long relief. The bullpen has three All-Star closers in it in Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, and Corey Knebel. There are no weak spots, and yes, they are better than you. They're better than anyone.
On paper, anyway. Baseball's a funny game, as they say, and everyone can have an off night or two. The Dodgers may be the cream of the big-league crop and the defending World Series champs, but you gotta play the games and weird things can happen. Last year the Mariners lost three of four to LA, but that was then. In this two-game set, Seattle will send lefties Justus Sheffield—who got flip-flopped in the rotation with Nick Margevicius after both pitched in a doubleheader last Tuesday in Baltimore—and Marco Gonzales to the hill. Sheffield has never faced the Dodgers and Gonzales has started against them only once, a no-decision last year (7 IP, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 Ks). LA will counter with the babies of their rotation, 23-year-old Dustin May and 24-year-old Julio Urias. May has no experience against Seattle and Urias just one game, a start last August in which he threw 52 pitches in just 12⁄3 innings before he was relieved. May was 5th in Rookie of the Year voting in the National League last season and has followed that campaign up with two fine starts in 2021; this is Urias' third full season in the Majors and he's held his own for the most part with better than average numbers.
|SEA vs. MAY||AB||H||HR||RBI||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG|
|SEA vs. URIAS||AB||H||HR||RBI||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG|
|LAD vs. SHEFFIELD||AB||H||HR||RBI||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG|
|LAD vs. GONZALES||AB||H||HR||RBI||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG|
Who’s Hot & Not
Last ten games
.425/.477/.850, 4 HR, 10 RBI
.281/.343/.531, 2 HR, 9 RBI
.216/.310/.459, 7 Ks
.231/.302/.513, 14 Ks
.259/.310/.333, 7 Ks
Last 3 series vs. Seattle
|8/20/20||LAD 6, SEA 1|
|8/19/20||SEA 6, LAD 4|
|8/18/20||LAD 2, SEA 1|
|8/17/20||LAD 11, SEA 9|
|8/19/19||LAD 12, SEA 1|
|8/18/19||SEA 5, LAD 4|
|8/17/19||LAD 11, SEA 1|
|4/15/15||LAD 5, SEA 2|
|4/14/15||LAD 6, SEA 5|
|4/13/15||LAD 6, SEA 5|
Dave Roberts: In 2016, he won National League Manager of the Year. The next two years he took his team to the World Series. In ’19 his Dodgers won a club-record 106 games to lead the National League. In last year's short season, he led the team to a championship. 2021? Look out, record books. Roberts' Dodgers have never finished anywhere other than first place and he currently owns the greatest career winning percentage for a manager in Major League history.
Last year the African-Asian-American Roberts, son of an African-American dad and a Japanese mom, spoke out to several LA-area media outlets in the wake of George Floyd's murder at the hands of police and the ensuing protests around the country. He decried the lack of progress in improving the American experience for minorities, especially in recent years, telling the Los Angeles Times, “The leaders of our country, unfortunately, aren’t good listeners and that’s how you impose change. People of color want to be heard. And when you have leaders that are put in positions to make change and don’t want to have those uncomfortable conversations, then change isn’t going to happen. There’s a difference between being educated and being ignorant. You have to understand that these situations happen every single day to people of color.” This year, in the wake of voter-suppression laws passing in Georgia, Roberts said he would likely decline to manage the All-Star team if the game was not moved out of Atlanta (it was moved to Denver and Roberts will manage). “When you’re trying to restrict African American votes — American citizens — that’s alarming to me to hear,” Roberts said. The Dodger manager was honored with the Brotherhood Award from the Metropolitan Los Angeles YMCA for 2020, given each year to an individual who serves as a model of community service and social justice. “I preach to our guys all the time about being comfortable being uncomfortable,” Roberts said. “For me to speak on politics or social issues is different, and it’s uncomfortable for me, but I just feel that right is right and I needed to speak up for what’s right and continue to do so.”
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 was last seen struggling to stay afloat in the Mets' minor-league system. Meanwhile, Taylor was a huge part of 2017'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 that year's National League Championship Series with a 1.248 OPS against the Cubs, and followed it up with three seasons of more-than-adequate production as both a starting player and off the bench and to date has over 230 RBI as a Dodger. Not bad for an expendable reserve guy traded for essentially nothing.
|Los Angeles Dodgers||(1958 - present)|
|World Champions:||1955, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, 1988, 2020|
|League Champions:||1889, 1890, 1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 2017, 2018|
|Division Titles:||1983, 1985, 1995, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019|
Mookie Betts' full name is Markus Lynn Betts, giving him the ever-so-appropriate monogram of M.L.B.
Clayton Kershaw: In his Cy Young season of 2014, Kershaw had a higher on-base percentage as a batter (.235) than opponents had against him as a pitcher (.231).
Trevor Bauer: The 2020 Cy Young winner is among the most hated players in the big leagues, partly for his political Twitter trolling (his tweets have included support for birtherism and anti-science views on climate change) but mostly for just being really full of himself. He's had his own way of training and keeping in shape since childhood, clashing with teammates at school—including fellow future big-league star Gerrit Cole—and, frankly, being a jerk about it. "I always believed in my methods wholeheartedly, and that I would have success. Didn’t have any doubt at all. It’s mostly just a nice feeling, like: I did it my way—and f--- you." Bauer is one of the highest-paid players in the game and appears to embody the worst aspects of societal greed. “I want to be a billionaire,” he once told Sports Illustrated. “Not for any other reason than just to say I did it.”