What’s Left on The Dodger’s To-Do List?

Cody Bellinger and Kike Hernandz

In most respects, the Dodgers had a successful 2017 season. In terms of regular season games won, they were second only to the 1953 side of Roy CampanellaJackie RobinsonPee Wee Reese, and Duke Snider. They were solid on the road, extremely good at home, and also recorded one of the greatest streaks in baseball history.

Going into their game on June 7th, they had a 35-25 record and were two games behind the Rockies, but then unleashed a 56-11 run, including a 29-4 stretch. By August 25th, their record stood at 91-36, giving them a 21-game lead over their Divisional rivals, and were closing in on the all-time regular season wins tally of 116. A run of 13-22 over their final 35 games put an end to that talk, but they still finished 11 games clear of the Diamondbacks.

And then there was that World Series. It will go down as one of the great World Series of all time, particularly the fifth game, and the way that the Dodgers bounced back after that epic 13-12 loss to set up the decider was testament to their character.

However, the memory of that tame surrender in game seven will serve to motivate everyone at the franchise to improve in 2018. While there are no particular weaknesses in the Dodgers roster, they will be hoping to add depth, and spring training therefore represents an opportunity for fringe players to bring themselves into the reckoning for the long season ahead.

The betting markets for the upcoming season don’t suggest that there’s much wrong with the Dodgers. If you want to place a wager with Stakers.com on the MLB this year, you’ll find the Dodgers ranked close behind the Astros and the Yankees for favorites. However, this is a franchise that doesn’t settle for second best, and there is no doubt that they will be striving for further improvements. Here are five areas that the Dodgers need to focus on in 2018.

Starting pitcher

The Dodgers lined up a surplus of starting pitchers for 2017, but Julio Urías didn’t work out, Scott Kazmir missed the whole season, and Brandon McCarthy was unreliable. Fans will be relieved to see Yu Darvish leave the roster, but the franchise needs to emerge from spring training with a settled line-up in this role. Walker Buehler looks likely to be the preferred option, with Urías still on the disabled list.


The biggest weakness in the roster last season turned out to be left-field. Enrique Hernández took his opportunity and enjoyed the game of his career to clinch the National League Championship Series, but the Dodgers have also moved to bring in Matt Kemp from Atlanta. Kemp and Hernández will be auditioning for the starting role during spring training, along with Joc Pedersen, Trayce Thompson, Andrew Toles, and Alex Verdugo.

Set-up reliever

Providing high-class, reliable support for Kenley Jansen is an annual problem. Pedro Báez hasn’t yet stepped up to claim the job, while neither Joe Blanton nor Brandon Morrow proved to be the solution. Scott Alexander could be the answer, and it will be fascinating to watch the former Royals pitcher tussle with Báez in spring training.

Left-handed reliever

Perhaps the one remaining area of weakness on the roster is at left-handed reliever. Tony Watson and Luis Avilán have gone, and Grant Dayton (who was also traded) is recovering from surgery. That leaves Adam Liberatore and Tony Cingrani as the best options, and Dodgers fans will be looking for strong performances from both players ahead of April. There is also the opportunity for a new talent to emerge from the ranks and fill this position.

Forsythe v righties

Logan Forsythe was one of the heroes of the 2017 postseason, giving the Dodgers a reliable fielder, a great locker-room asset, and a solid performer against left-handed pitchers. His weakness was against righties, but there were signs in the post-season that this was changing, and we can expect this hard-working professional to continue to improve in this area.

The Dodgers arguably possess the most talented roster in the MLB and are aiming not just to go one better in the World Series but also to dominate baseball for many years to come. Spring training will be an opportunity for the team to work on their minor weaknesses and to make a strong statement of intent ahead of the 2018 season. After recovering from last season’s disappointment, Dodgers fans are ready to go again and roar their team to the top.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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27 thoughts on “What’s Left on The Dodger’s To-Do List?

  1. Well Scott in my book they will not do anything major unless they move Kemp. But I have little faith in any of the starters behind Kershaw to be anything great. Wood can be very good at times and it would be really nice to see him build on last year. Maeda the 2nd and 3rd time through the line up get hammered most of the time. Hill is what he is, 5 innings and that is about it. Ryu has the talent to be a #2, but not sure he has the stuff anymore to do that. He can be very good at times also, but there is a trust problem there with all of them. Kershaw is the only bona fide 200 inning guy in the rotation. Compared to the other teams their rotation falls short in my mind. They are loaded with relievers and seem to always find that one guy who pitches above what he has ever done before. We will see if they can replace Morrow. In the field, they are good defensively if everyone is healthy and the question mark right now is Seager. LF will be handled by that great player, who the hell knows….he is always clutch……Offense and protection of the big 3, Turner, Bellinger and Seager will be vital. Who do they trust behind those guys. We will also see if Chris Taylor can build on last year. Right now, Grandal, projected by some moron to hit 35 homers, does not even have a hit yet, and he looks terrible at the plate, and Barnes has not looked good either. Farmer might make this team by default.

    1. Starting pitching. Seems we are always 1 starting pitcher short.

      We stay healthy we win the West. 94 wins. Arizona 86, SF 84, Colorado 81, San Diego 53. That’s the temperatures currently in San Diego. They might win more games than that. 72.

    2. Mr. Norris
      Which LF do you think could play better than Kemp? Why is it so necessary to “Move” Kemp? I don’t see a platoon or a player that can hit as well as Kemp and I think he can do a respectable job in LF. If you think they can move Kemp for a solid player, I think you are mistaken. The Dodgers will pay him his money so why not use him? To say the Dodgers will not do anything unless they move Kemp is a huge disservice to him. Of course you have your opinion but I think you missed it this time.

      1. It was sarcasm there package. I have been on Matts side ever since he was re-acquired. All I read is how Friedman wants to move him, then I read they are very satisfied with the way he reported in shape and ready to play. If you would have read my earlier post I said Friedman is an idiot if he moves Kemp because NONE of the other outfield candidates have his credentials as a hitter and so far none has shown they can do the job everyday.

        1. Mr. Norris
          Please excuse my error. I did not recognize the sarcasm but I should have because I have read all of your comments and knew that you were a supporter of Kemp.

  2. I have a strong feeling Urias’s ship has sailed. I do not think he will ever be the pitcher that the team thought he would be. Too many injuries and lack of success have hurt the young man.

    1. So you’re saying we SHOULD have traded him for Hamels.

      I doubt any of the 5 other left fielders can hit with Kemp, but a platoon of say Pederson/Hernandez might put up more wins above replacement. They’re gonna try to get rid of him, and in the final analysis it would not surprise me if they cut him loose and we pay him to play someplace else. These guys have made a habit of paying other teams to take our refuse. Last I looked it was around $14 million. It’s nothing for them to add Kemp’s salary to that figure.

    2. I agree Package that he will not be the pitcher that the team (or the FAZ-o-maniacs) thought he would be but I thought that from the beginning. Would have traded him for a proven pitcher a long time ago…..a la Chris Sale (when he was available).

      If Friedman and Zaidi are so good evaluating talent than why not move him (and Pederson) along with Jose De Leon for Chris Sale when they had the chance.

      Come on, the #1 overall prospect (Urias) and another top 20 prospect (Deleon) along with Joc Pederson who was the rave after his first few months. Just imagine Chris Sale on the team last year and going forward.

      That my friend is vision. Maybe instead of Zaidi spending as much time on fantasy football ……’His boss, Andrew Friedman, suggested Zaidi should spend more time on his actual profession.’ ………………Maybe he should have been using his intelligence to determine that 1 bird in hand is better than 2 in the bush.

      1. Chili
        Just another of many potential trades the Dodgers could have done in the FAZ regime. These guys get so much praise it makes me sick. Remember, the Dodgers were winning BEFORE FAZ! I think you are right on target.

        1. Package

          This is obvious, we have not got much out of leftfield in the last few years, except when Toles and Taylor played there, for a short time.

          And there is no way I would platoon Kemp with Joc.

          Joc still hasn’t hit consistently after three years, and who would want Joc to have more at bats, or up in a RBI situation, over Kemp?

          Kemp is by far the best hitter, of the bunch, and I think both Taylor and Toles are better hitters, then Joc.

          I think it wouldn’t hurt Toles to go down to AAA and play everyday, to be ready to come up to the big team, when he is needed.

          Kemp hit 35 HRs in 2016 on bad teams, in bad line ups, when was the last time we had an outfielder who hit 35 HRs?

          Of course the answer is Kemp!

          If Kemp is able to play adequate defense in left, leftfield is Kemp’s!

          1. MJ
            Excellent take by you on this one MJ in my opinion. Don’t know if the Dodgers want to send Toles down but it might be necessary. I am ready for Joc to leave.

          2. So far Kemp has played better than any of them. None of the Non roster guys has shown much except Muncy. Toles has yet to get a hit. Thompson has looked decent at the plate, but shows some rust. Pederson is still striking out a lot. Kemp has only K’d once. Farmer is the best hitter in spring so far, and Utley, Grandal and Seager have not hit much at all. Of course Seager has not even played in the field yet, and that should be a concern. Since the Dodgers are going to carry 13 pitchers there will only be 12 position players on the roster. The locks are Turner, Taylor, Bellinger, Puig, Forsythe, Grandal, Barnes, Hernandez, and Seager. that leaves all those other guys fighting for 3 spots. Unless he is moved, Kemp is in that bunch too. So Pederson, Toles, Utley, Thompson, and all the non roster dudes fighting it out. Segedin has not fully recovered from his injury and most likely will be at OKC. Utley is signed for 2 years at a very low salary, so he could retire and become a coach if he does not show signs of being able to contribute. But the odds of Toles and Thompson and Pederson have diminished a bunch.

  3. My take.

    Matt Kemp will either be starting in LF or will be traded/released. I do not see Matt Kemp sitting on the bench as that would not play out well in so many ways.

    1. What? An $18 million pinch hitter won’t work?

      Yep, he starts here or he’s finished here. Makes sense to me.

      Anticipating injuries is a FAZoscience that is yet to have a reliable algorithm. If there was one, what would be the reading on Buehler?

      1. On Buehler? If he performs well OR if another organization wants him for a reliable, proven successful pitcher, he would be gone. But with Friedman & Zaidi and Buehler being their draft choice, they’ll hang onto him until his arm falls off. The over/under on that is 4 years. I’m taking the under.

          1. What?

            Grant Holmes was drafted in the 2014 draft which was in June. Friedman was hired October, 2014.

            Holmes wasn’t Friedman’s pick. So yes, unlike Holmes, they will hang onto Buehler to the very end.

    2. Package

      I think Toles is going to be a good player, but I would rather he was playing everyday in AAA, then sitting on the bench.

      And you really want your best players, playing everyday in AAA, then up in the majors, sitting on the bench.

      Because sitting on the bench is not good for any player.

    3. Michael

      I read the Dodgers were carrying 13 pitchers early in the season, because the Dodgers will be facing the Giants 7 times early in the season, and facing the Dbacks 3 times early in the season.

      1. The Dodgers play the Giants 10 times in the first month of the season. They open with 4 at home, then the next weekend they are in SF for 3 then April 27-29th they are back in SF again. They play AZ 12 times between opening day and May 3rd, including 7 in AZ. They have 5 off days in April, so less reason to carry extra pitchers, but they will sure need them in May, and from all I have read, they will probably carry 13 most of the year. The Angels are going with a 6 man rotation. They are going to play close to a third of their schedule against the NL west in the first 1 1/2 months.

  4. Badger
    Not sure about Buehler but FAZ places way too much emphasis these young players. It is a fact that most do not even make it in the bigs and a whole bunch more are less than average. Getting a top of the line player is hard too do but we keep every one we can, even at the expense of good solid veteran players.

    1. FAZ knows their success is dependent on young players pack. Seager and Bellinger will anchor the lineup for years. The young pitchers they’ve picked will eventually be asked to step in and perform. Buehler is an interesting case as he was yet another risk pick, going 24th and needing TJ right after signing. We’ve gone over the numbers regarding return from that procedure. Fangraphs has an excellent write up on it. Nothing is guaranteed, though return rates are high. Return times vary a bit, but one thing is for certain – Buehler has had more than enough time to recover. His surgery was in summer of ‘15 and he was throwing in the Midwest League in summer of ‘16. It’s time.

      It should also be noted that picking anywhere in the first round doesn’t guarantee anything. I just read a fangraph article on success rates based on slot positions. It’s not what some might think. Top 10 or picks 20-30 actually have very similar success rates. Mike Trout was a 25th pick. That same year Dustin Ackley, Donavan Tate, Matt Hobgood and Tony Sanchez were Top 5 picks. Prospect algorithms are a work in progress.

  5. I also saw a guy post that this game today, would be broadcasted on the MLB channel a hour later, then the game starts today, and it will also be broadcasted on MLB TV too.

    But I don’t know if the game broadcasted on the MLB Channel today, will be blacked out to people in Southern California

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