Cap Space: Previewing the Los Angeles Dodgers with NBCLA’s Michael Duarte
Tony Capobianco previews the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers with NBCLA sportswriter Mike Duarte.
The Los Angeles Dodgers finished the 2016 season on the verge of finally making their long awaited return to the World Series. Sadly for the boys in blue, the Chicago Cubs were in front of them on the line of destiny. There were a lot of good things to come out of last season that applies to this upcoming season.
No team in the big leagues had as many players be placed on the disabled list as the Dodgers. Yet despite that, the Dodgers still penciled in a formidable lineup each day thanks in large part to the sturdy trio of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (.285, 18 HR, 90 RBI), third baseman Justin Turner (.275, 27 HR, 90 RBI) and Rookie of the Year Award winning shortstop Corey Seager (.308, 26 HR, 72 RBI). Each of which played more than 150 games and were the team’s best hitters.
The Dodgers also had four hitters with more than 25 home runs last season but were middle of the pack in the National League. In the case of catcher Yasmani Grandal, his 27 home runs last year was a long time coming for the sixth year veteran out of the University of Miami. He was the centerpiece in the blockbuster trade with the San Diego Padres for Matt Kemp during the 2014 Winter Meetings and now he is finally showing Kemp-like power.
In the case of centerfielder Joc Pederson, hitting 25+ home runs for the second consecutive season show that this is the kind of player the third year youngster is going to be for years to come. The Dodgers also expect more power to come their way with the addition of second baseman Logan Forsythe, who hit a career high 20 home runs for the Tampa Bay Rays last year.
The Dodgers were fifth in the National League last year in team ERA (3.70) and with health permitting, they could be better. Clayton Kershaw is the rock for the Dodgers and Kenta Maeda was solid in his first year in the big leagues as the only starter on the team to surpass 30 starts, but there is still plenty of pressing questions about the starting rotation.
Rich Hill had a breakout year with the Oakland Athletics and was the prize get for the Dodgers in last season’s trade deadline. The 37-year-old went 12-5, including 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA in his last six starts but blisters were an issue and he signed a three-year deal with the expectation that the late bloomer’s best is going to go into his 40’s.
Brandon McCarthy signed a four-year deal with the Dodgers a couple years ago after enjoying a short-term career revival with the New York Yankees, but injuries have derailed his tenure in blue to the tune of 5.29 ERA in a total of 63 innings. There is hope that third time is a charm for McCarthy, who can still be a solid part of the rotation as long as he can make it to the mound. Scott Kazmir was great in Oakland before coming to the Dodgers last year. He went 10-6 with 134 strikeouts but he had a 4.56 ERA and injuries ended his season early. Alex Wood is in a similar boat. Julio Urias showed some promise in his rookie season but will be on an innings limit again this season. Even when the Dodgers rotation enters the regular season in full strength, it comes with little certainties.
The bullpen brought back its anchor in closer Kenley Jansen and is hoping for Sergio Romo to be on the rebound as the team’s projected setup man. Romo won the 2012 and 2014 World Series with the San Francisco Giants but was always a Dodger fan at heart. It’s not the first time the Dodgers went to the Giants’ yard sale and pulled out a former championship closer. Brian Wilson was their first experiment back in 2013.
The Dodgers have the right combination of youth, experience and depth to return to the playoffs. It’s anyone’s guess after that.
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