A season full of expectations awaits the Los Angeles Dodgers as they prepare to begin the 162-game schedule against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia.
After a loss in Game 6 of the NLCS last season, the Dodgers come into the 2014 season as one of the favorites to end the season in celebration in October. Returning a majority of their starting lineup from 2013 and added depth to the bullpen, the team is expected to contend for a World Series title much like they did last season. They’ll try to avoid injuries and the 30-42 start that plagued them last season.
Here’s our 2014 Dodgers’ season preview:
Much has been made of the battle for second base this spring after Mark Ellis left for St. Louis and Cuban infielder Alex Guerrero was deemed not ready for the big leagues. Guerrero, Dee Gordon, Justin Turner and Chone Figgins all had their chances at the position in the spring and it seems as if Turner and Gordon could be involved in a platoon. Besides second base, not much has changed for the Dodgers.
Adrian Gonzalez will once again be counted on to bring some stability and power to the middle of the lineup, while Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe will man the left side of the infield. A healthy Ramirez could emerge as an MVP candidate if he plays like the second half of last season. A.J. Ellis returns behind the plate and should lead the rotation, while providing timely hitting.
In the outfield, the situation will be clear to begin the season. Carl Crawford will begin in left after Australia, Andre Ethier takes center and Yasiel Puig will be in right. The trouble will begin once Matt Kemp fully recovers from ankle surgery. Last season, the quarter of outfielders was only together for a handful of games, but if Kemp returns, it’ll leave manager Don Mattingly with a decision to make.
The trio at the helm of the Dodger rotation returns to provide one of the better top halves of any rotation in baseball. Reigning Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw will lead the way after a season in which he had a minuscule 1.83 ERA. Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu are expected to provide much of the same from 2013.
At the back end, right-handers Dan Haren and Josh Beckett will begin the season in the rotation. Left-hander Paul Maholm could see some spot starts and be the first one to fill in if an injury occurs. Haren won 10 games with the Washington Nationals last season, while Beckett was 0-5 before ending his season early with surgery to remove a rib.
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