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2019 Dodgers Season Preview

Via USA Today

The Los Angeles Dodgers enter the 2019 season with one goal: end the World Series drought. Following back-to-back National League pennant wins in 2017 and 2018, six consecutive NL West division titles, and the most wins by any team in the past half-decade, the Dodgers don’t have much else they haven’t already achieved.

“This team wants it so bad. The city wants it so bad.”

David Freese on his motivation going into 2019 (via AM 570 LA Sports)

Dodgers’ 2019 Depth Chart

Depth chart via MLB.com

Projected Starters w/ ’17-’18 Slash Lines:

  • Austin Barnes (C) .249/.371/.392
  • Max Muncy (1B) .263/.391/.582
  • Chris Taylor (2B) .270/.342/.470
  • Justin Turner (3B) .318/.411/.524
  • Corey Seager (SS) .291/.371/.466
  • Joc Pederson (LF) .234/.325/.475
  • AJ Pollock (CF) .261/.323/.477
  • Cody Bellinger (RF) .263/.347/.522

Starting Rotation w/ ’17-’18 ERAs:

  • Clayton Kershaw (LHP) 2.52 ERA
  • Walker Buehler (RHP) 2.95 ERA
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu (LHP) 3.06 ERA
  • Rich Hill (LHP) 3.49 ERA
  • Kenta Maeda (RHP) 4.02 ERA
  • Ross Stripling (RHP) 3.30 ERA
  • Julio Urias (LHP) 4.61 ERA

Bullpen w/ ’17-’18 Opp. AVGs:

  • Kenley Jansen (RHP) .189 AVG
  • Pedro Baez (RHP) .221 AVG
  • Joe Kelly (RHP) .216 AVG
  • Caleb Ferguson (LHP) .231 AVG
  • Dylan Floro (RHP) .180 AVG
  • Dennis Santana (RHP) .233 AVG (AAA stats)
  • Brock Stewart (RHP) .233 AVG
  • Scott Alexander (LHP) .236 AVG
  • JT Chargois (RHP) .220 AVG
  • Tony Cingrani (LHP) .217 AVG
  • Yimi Garcia (RHP) .305 AVG
  • Adam McCreery (LHP) .120 AVG (AAA stats)

Position Depth w/ ’17-’18 Slash Lines:

  • Kik√© Hernandez (UTL) .239/.324/.449
  • David Freese (INF) .279/.363/.421
  • Russell Martin (C) .208/.341/.357
  • Alex Verdugo (OF) .321/.390/.454 (AAA stats)

Season Projections

The cats out of the bag; the Dodgers will win the NL West in 2019.

According to standing projections conducted by Fangraphs, RotoChamp, Bleacher Report, PECOTA, Baseball America, and CBS Sports, the Dodgers are set to win their seventh consecutive division title. Those who also projected each team’s record along with the standings for the 2019 season each predicted the Dodgers to top the second-place Colorado Rockies by an average of about ten games.

With the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants both entering a rebuilding phase, the Dodgers, frankly, have it rather easy in the NL West. According to FanGraphs’ projections, the Dodgers are the only NL West team who will finish above .500 this season, with the Rockies slated to finish with an even 81-81 record.

CBS Sports, using SportsLine projects, shows the Dodgers to be in line for 100.4 wins in 2019, the only National League team projected to hit the century mark this upcoming season. The Dodgers last finished with one hundred or more wins in the 2017 season, when they won 104 games.

Players to Watch

Via Sports Illustrated

Corey Seager went down early during the 2018 season, undergoing Tommy John surgery in April of last year. Alongside Tommy John, Seager also had surgery done on his hip flexor. Now, two correctional surgeries later, Seager is nearly back to full speed at shortstop, and is well on his way to holding down that same position come Opening Day.

Per Steamer projections, Corey Seager is on track to record the second highest WAR by any player in the National League, behind only Kris Bryant. The Steamer predicts that we’ll see a twenty-two home run season from the returning shortstop, paired with a very strong .836 OPS.

Seager played in only 26 games for the Dodgers in 2018, and the team still managed to post their sixth consecutive 90+ win season. With a full year of Seager, the Dodgers are poised to be very successful in 2019.

Via Los Angeles Times

AJ Pollock became the Dodgers’ top offseason acquisition when he inked his five year deal with the team in January. The Dodgers shipped outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp off to Cincinnati in a salary dump deal during the month prior, and it seems as if Pollock is the player who will fill the void left by the departures of Puig and Kemp.

Where Pollock’s story becomes intriguing is his history of injuries. Pollock has not appeared in 120 or more games in any single season since 2015, and has only done so twice in his seven-year career. However, when Pollock is healthy, he’s one of the best outfielders in the game.

2019 Steamer projections suggest that Pollock will break this streak of shortened seasons, appearing in 127 games according to the projections. The projections also show that Pollock will experience a drop-off in power-hitting, but will better his ratios in both walks and strikeouts. While these numbers are only projections, they are certainly promising for Pollock and Dodgers.

Via USA Today

Walker Buehler enters the 2019 season as a Major League sophomore, following one of the greatest rookie seasons in the history of the game. Buehler tossed his way to a 0.96 WHIP in his rookie campaign, which is the second best posted by a rookie starter in the live-ball era (1910-present).

With the Dodgers clear ace, Clayton Kershaw, dealing with shoulder pain that has slowed down his preparation for Opening Day, Buehler could potentially take the reigns of ‘ace-of-the-staff’ this season. Projected to finish with an ERA of 3.27 by the Steamer, Walker Buehler will likely see some regression from last season. However, it’s safe to place Buehler among some of the league’s best, and to expect great things from him in 2019.

Via CBS Sports

Clayton Kershaw appears to be determined to do just one thing for himself this year; prove the doubters wrong. Although he has been on a rocky start with shoulder pain, keeping him from making a start in the Cactus League to this point, Kershaw is still one of the game’s elite starters.

The Steamer projects Kershaw to finish above 3.00 with earned run average for the first time since his rookie season in 2008. Discounting his rookie season, the Steamer predicts Kershaw to have the worst season of his career in 2019, and that’s where Kershaw’s determination to prove the doubters wrong comes in. Although he will begin the year on the Dodgers’ injured list, Kershaw will look to return from his slow start and reclaim his spot atop the Dodgers’ pitching staff.

Final Thoughts

Coming straight from Diamond Digest, here are a couple final predictions for the Dodgers season:

Remember that these are just projections, meaning that the thoughts below are merely educated guesses.

  • The Dodgers will finish with a win total greater than 93 wins.
  • A third consecutive NL pennant will be hung up at Dodger Stadium.

It is without a doubt that with the roster that the Dodgers have managed to assemble, they will be very successful in 2019. But the biggest question surrounding the Dodgers continues to be, “Are they good enough to win it all?”

Arrick Joel

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

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