Rewind to mid summer, 2017. The temperature was hot, the popsicles were melting and the Dodgers were playing some of the best regular season baseball we have ever seen. It seemed that they were winning every night and at one point I asked myself “Is this the best regular season team of all time?” The Dodgers were on pace to win 115 and had established themselves as heavy World Series favorites. Then as September came and the weather started to drop, so did the Dodgers. They started to not pitch well and couldn’t produce a big hit for the life of them. The Dodger faithful began to panic and as the postseason began to near, the Dodgers became colder than North Dakota is in the winter. They entered the postseason with a 104-58 record but knew they had to play the way they were in the summer if they wanted to win it all. They did just that. The Dodgers started to heat up again and at just the right time. After defeating the Diamondbacks in the NLDS commandingly and the Cubs in the NLCS handedly, the Dodgers had found themselves in the 2017 Word Series. They would then however run into their match in the Houston Astros who defeated the boys in blue in 7 games. The Dodgers are now looking to feed off of last season’s energy and translate it into a successful 2018 year.
I think the key factor to the Dodgers’ success coming into the season is going to be the production of their starting rotation. We all know that production is mostly going to come from the front end. The Dodgers have the best ace in the game and have arguably one of the better pitchers we have seen in the history of baseball, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is a once in a generation type player and had another wildly successful season in 2017. He finished the year with a 18-4 record, a 2.31 ERA and a 5.0 WAR. It’s pretty obvious to expect greatness from Kershaw in 2018 but it is the guys around him that can turn this team from good to great. At the 2, the Dodgers trot out Rich Hill, a southpaw from Boston who finished the 2017 season with a 3.23 ERA. When Hill has his stuff, he is capable of becoming perfect and we saw that last year as he took a perfect game into the 9th in Pittsburgh. That game ended with Hill giving up a walk off homer in the 10th which also gave up his no hitter but that is a different story for a different day. The Dodgers’ 1-2-3 combo is capped of by Alex Wood who had a huge 2017 campaign and finished the year with a 16-3 record and a 2.72 ERA. If Hill and Wood can support Kershaw throughout the season, along with production from Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu, this will be one of the scarier starting rotations in all of baseball and is certainly not one you are going to want to face frequently.
As for this Dodger offense, I expect them to be exceptional in 2018. They are led by a second year player from Scottsdale who had one of the best rookie years we have ever seen. Cody Bellinger, at the young age of 22 years old, has already established himself as a star. He finished his 2017 rookie season with a .267 batting average, hit 39 home runs and drove in 97 runs. Bellinger is looking to feed off of his sensational rookie season with an even better sophomore year. Surrounding Bellinger in the lineup is a plethora of big bats that are looking to produce in big ways this summer. One of these bats includes SS Corey Seager who is one of the best hitting SS in all of Major League Baseball and will hit for a .300 BA on a consistent basis and amaze you with his glove every night he steps onto the diamond. The Dodgers also have a red hair fire ball in Justin Turner manning the hot corner who has more pop in his bat than pop rocks. Turner is coming off of a 2017 season where he hit for a .322 BA, had a .415 OBP, and drove in 71 runs on the year. Turner will look to continue to improve as a player in 2018 and help his team get back to the World Series. Turner unfortunately fractured his wrist in a spring training game, so the slugger will have to start the season on the DL. Finally, I think the play of the Dodgers OF is going to be crucial towards the teams success this season. Joc Pedersen and Yasiel Puig have potential to be superstars, but have been too inconsistent to be dependent on and Chris Taylor is a good leadoff hitter, but I don’t know how good of a year he is going to have. I think there is one question mark for the Dodgers heading into the season, it is the production they are going to get out of their starting OF.
Overall, I like this Dodger team a lot. I think they have a small hole in their OF offensive production but other than that, this is one of the more complete teams you are going to find in the major leagues. I think they will have a small drop off from last season due to the fact the the NL West is vastly improved this season and the Dodgers are going to face better competition on a constant basis. That being said, I still have this team winning the NL West by around 4 games and have them finishing the season with a 95-67 record. I than have them losing however, in the NLDS to the Washington Nationals as I think this team is good, but not good enough to win a championship, at least not this season.