AnalysisNL West

2020 Dodgers Season Preview

In 2019…

Last season, the Dodgers’ reputation as the class of the National League did not falter. Los Angeles won an NL-best 106 games, setting a franchise record in wins on their way to a seventh consecutive NL West divisional title. The driving force of the Dodgers a season ago, was the explosion of young talent that the team experienced. Rookies such as Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Will Smith, Matt Beaty, Edwin Rios, Tony Gonsolin, Alex Verdugo, and Kyle Garlick created a “next-man-up” atmosphere surrounding the Dodgers that made the team’s depth feel almost limitless.

Despite the power provided by the rookie core, Cody Bellinger, winner of the 2019 National League Most Valuable Player Award, was the headlining factor that led to the team’s historic season. Bellinger also took home a Gold Glove award and a Silver Slugger award in his historic season.

Headed into October 2019, boasting the second-most wins in baseball, the Dodgers were projected by a number of analysts to return to the World Series for a third consecutive year. However, Los Angeles ran into a hot Washington Nationals team in the National League Divisional Series. The Nationals took the Dodgers to five games, blowing past L.A. with a late rally, capped off by an extra-inning grand slam by Howie Kendrick to send the Nationals to their first National League Championship Series since 1981, before their relocation from Montreal.

The Offseason

Following their postseason upset, the mood around the Los Angeles organization was one of revenge and redemption. The National League’s strongest team had been booted from the playoffs in the first round and were in need of a strong offseason to raise the spirits of Dodgers fans. Andrew Friedman, President of Baseball Operations, knew his task and did not disappoint.

Blake Treinen

Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Dodgers first big move of the winter was a one year deal worth $10M, bringing 2018 AL Reliever of the Year award winner Blake Treinen to Los Angeles. Treinen’s 2018 season was a historic one. The AL All-Star recorded a 0.78 ERA over 80.1 innings pitched, collecting the second-highest bWAR total of a relief pitcher in a single season since the turn of the century. By fWAR, unanimous Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera’s 1996 season is the only season in the legendary reliever’s career that out-did Treinen’s 2018 season.

However, Treinen’s follow up season after his incredible 2018 was nothing less than awful. Treinen tossed 58.2 innings during the 2019 season, posting a 4.91 ERA and a negative fWAR for the first time in his career. Treinen showed he was capable of greatness in 2018 and despite a disappointing 2019, Friedman and the Dodgers have a strong belief in a bounce-back year from Treinen in 2020. Only time will tell.

Jimmy Nelson

Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one thing Andrew Friedman is known for, it’s buying low and winning big. The Dodgers will look for Jimmy Nelson to be another player who shows out after flying under the radar in free agency.

Nelson played a big role in the Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation during the 2017 season, throwing 175.1 innings for Milwaukee while holding a 3.49 ERA before suffering a shoulder injury that held him out of the entire 2018 season. Nelson’s 2019 season was brief, pitching in only twenty-two innings. However, now a full year removed from his injury, the Dodgers expect Nelson to make a positive impact on the mound in 2020.

Alex Wood

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Returning to the Dodgers in 2020, Alex Wood signed a one year, $4M deal this winter after the trade two Decembers ago that sent him to Cincinnati. Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Kyle Farmer were involved in a trade following the 2018 season between the Dodgers and Reds that sent Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray to Los Angeles.

In his time in Cincinnati, Wood spent a large amount of time on the injured list. But, when he did play, he accrued 35.2 innings pitched in seven starts. In those starts, Wood held a 5.80 ERA. Although Wood had a poor 2019, the notable sinkerball pitcher has a history of good pitching. In 2017, Wood made the National League All-Star team after starting the season 10-0. The Dodgers will look for Wood to make a strong comeback in 2020.

Brusdar Graterol

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

In the final week of the offseason, the Dodgers completed two big trades to bolster the roster and boost the team to best-in-the-league status. One of these trades was with the Minnesota Twins. The Dodgers sent starting pitcher Kenta Maeda and cash considerations to Minnesota in return for Brusdar Graterol, Luke Raley, and the 67th pick in the 2020 June first-year player draft.

In the newest edition of Baseball America’s top 100 prospects in Major League Baseball, Graterol ranked 60th. Baseball America describes Graterol as a pitcher who “with no more seasoning at all…could jump into the back of the bullpen and overpower hitters with his power arsenal.” Baseball America’s ETA for Graterol to make the jump to the big leagues is 2020.

David Price

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

As baseball’s third-highest paid pitcher, David Price has a history of being amongst some of the best pitching talents in the game. With the Red Sox fighting in the toughest division in Major League Baseball, all the while knowing the division title almost already belongs to the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox have made the decision to cut down on their payroll and begin a sort of retooling process. Their first order of business: trading David Price to Los Angeles. Price is due $32M in salary this season. As part of the trade between the Dodgers and the Red Sox, Boston agreed to pay half of Price’s remaining contract, lowering his hit to Boston’s payroll to $16M per year until 2022.

Since joining the Red Sox in 2016, Price has recorded 10.6 points of fWAR in ninety-eight starts. Before his time in Boston, Price became the first pitcher in Tampa Bay Rays history to win the Cy Young award, doing so in 2012. Although he isn’t likely to exhibit his ace form as he did in Tampa Bay, Price plugs in very nicely at the third spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation.

Mookie Betts

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The crowning gem of the Dodgers offseason, 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts. Along with David Price, the Dodgers acquired Mookie Betts from the Red Sox in the offseason’s biggest trade. The trade sent Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs, and Connor Wong to Boston.

Betts is without a doubt one of baseball’s best players. His combination of power hitting in the lineup, speed to bat lead-off and steal bases regularly, and league-best fielding in right-field makes Betts nothing short of a generational talent. In the last three seasons, Betts has 22.4 points of fWAR. The only other player with more than 20.0 in that timeframe is Mike Trout. According to Baseball Savant, Betts is in the 92nd projectile of OAA. Both at the plate and in the field, Betts is one of the most exciting players in baseball. Barring an unforeseen injury, Betts will be a top competitor for NL MVP in 2020.

Projected Lineups & Rotations

All projections are accurate as of Saturday, February 15th, via RosterResource by FanGraphs.

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

26-Man Roster

  • #3 Chris Taylor (INF/OF)
  • #5 Corey Seager (SS)
  • #7 Julio Urías (LHP)
  • #9 Gavin Lux (2B/SS)
  • #10 Justin Turner (3B)
  • #11 A.J. Pollock (OF)
  • #13 Max Muncy (INF)
  • #14 Kiké Hernández (INF/OF)
  • #15 Austin Barnes (C/2B)
  • #16 Will Smith (C)
  • #17 Joe Kelly (RHP)
  • #21 Walker Buehler (RHP)
  • #22 Clayton Kershaw (LHP)
  • #31 Joc Pederson (OF/1B)
  • #33 David Price (LHP)
  • #35 Cody Bellinger (OF/1B)
  • #40 Jimmy Nelson (RHP)
  • #45 Matt Beaty (INF/OF)
  • #49 Blake Treinen (RHP)
  • #50 Mookie Betts (OF/2B)
  • #51 Dylan Floro (RHP)
  • #52 Pedro Báez (RHP)
  • #56 Adam Kolarek (LHP/1B)
  • #57 Alex Wood (LHP)
  • #68 Ross Stripling (RHP)
  • #74 Kenley Jansen (RHP)

Go-To Starting Lineup vs. RHP

  1. Mookie Betts (RF)
  2. Max Muncy (1B)
  3. Justin Turner (3B)
  4. Cody Bellinger (CF)
  5. Joc Pederson (LF)
  6. Corey Seager (SS)
  7. Will Smith (C)
  8. Gavin Lux (2B)
  9. PITCHER’S SPOT

Bench Depth

  • Austin Barnes (C/2B)
  • Matt Beaty (INF/OF)
  • Kiké Hernández (INF/OF)
  • Chris Taylor (INF/OF)
  • A.J. Pollock (OF)

Starting Pitching Rotation

  1. Clayton Kershaw (LHP)
  2. Walker Buehler (RHP)
  3. David Price (LHP)
  4. Alex Wood (LHP)
  5. Julio Urías (LHP)

Bullpen Order

  • CL – Kenley Jansen (RHP)
  • SU8 – Pedro Báez (RHP)
  • SU7 – Joe Kelly (RHP)
  • MID – Blake Treinen (RHP)
  • MID – Ross Stripling (RHP)
  • MID – Dylan Floro (RHP)
  • MID – Adam Kolarek (LHP)
  • LR – Jimmy Nelson (RHP)

Season Predictions

There are a number of different platforms and media outlets that create projections of standings, playoff seedings, and World Series champions before any given season. This season, the Dodgers have very high expectations from their fanbase and analysts of the game. Here are a few predictions from a number of sources surrounding baseball:

Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA

This year’s PECOTA projection results show the Dodgers winning 103 games in 2020, the most of any team in baseball. This goes along with the prediction of the Dodgers winning the NL West by 24 games over the second-place San Diego Padres, who are projected to win 79 games. The PECOTA has the Dodgers as the only team in the MLB to win 100 or more games, and the only team in the National League to crack 90 wins. These projections show absolute dominance from Los Angeles.

Davenport

Clay Davenport, well-known baseball sabermetrician, gathered together his projections for 2020 and like the PECOTA, has Los Angeles leading baseball in wins. Davenport has the Dodgers winning 102 games in 2020, winning the NL West by 17 games. The New York Yankees join the Dodgers in the 100-win club in 2020 according to Davenport’s projections.

USA TODAY

Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY wrote in early February about the news source’s projections for the 2020 MLB season. The company’s six-person panel’s aggregate projections show the Dodgers winning 99 games in 2020. While these projections were made prior to the acquisition of Mookie Betts, they still do not seem incredibly far-fetched. USA TODAY predicts the Dodgers to win the NL West by 14 games over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

My Prediction

In 2019, the Dodgers won 106 games to set the franchise record for wins. I believe it is fair to say the Dodgers competition in the NL West has not improved since last season while the Dodgers have. As of now, I see no reason why the Dodgers would not reach 100 wins in 2020. If key players on the Dodgers’ roster perform past expectations, Los Angeles has a serious chance to break the franchise record they set just a year ago. I see the Dodgers floor at 98-99 wins, while their ceiling could be 109-110 wins in 2020.

Los Angeles has an exciting year of baseball ahead. Everyone in baseball knows the Dodgers can stack up wins like no other team in the league. Now the goal is to bring a World Series trophy to Dodger Stadium for the first time since 1988.

Arrick Joel

Senior Writer for Dodgers-LowDown and Contributor for Diamond Digest.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button
Close
Close