Bold Predictions for the Dodgers’ 2019 Season

With spring training still months away, and plenty of off-season moves still to be made, trying to predict anything about the 2019 regular season with any certainly seems like a foolish endeavor. So, I figured that’s right up my alley.

So, here they are. My bold predictions for the Dodgers 2019 season, January edition. They could very well be wrong. But they also have a small possibility of being right… so there you go.

The Dodgers will not sign Bryce Harper

Not what you wanted to hear, I know. And you’re not alone, that’s for sure.

Not signing Harper may not be that “bold” of a prediction considering so many teams are in the hunt for the superstar. However, after the huge trade the Dodgers recently completed that sent Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp out of town, while also clearing out some payroll, the Dodgers have been considered the front runners to land Harper.

While I don’t think it’s out of the question that the Dodgers land Harper, something tells me the front office won’t be willing to dish out the crazy amounts of money that he’ll demand, and more importantly, the years he’ll demand. Giving out huge free agent contracts hasn’t been Andrew Friedman’s MO so far, and I’m not sure that is going change now.

I still have a feeling Harper ends up in Philadelphia. I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll soon find out.

The Dodgers stand pat at second base, make a move for a catcher

When looking at what needs the Dodgers still have to address this off-season, most agree that catcher and second base are two of the bigger concerns.

For second base, I think it’s entirely possible that the Dodgers will stay with their in-house options. Both Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez are more than capable of filling that role. Excluding Austin Barnes, both Taylor and Hernandez put up the lowest offensive numbers on the team last year in terms of OPS and wRC but still had above league average totals (113 & 118 wRC respectively.)

Looking at the free agents, none stand out as a very big improvement. Jed Lowrie has had two very productive years in a row, but before that, he was a pretty underwhelming player. Chris Taylor’s 2017 season (.850 OPS) was better than any year Lowrie has ever put up in his career. If Taylor can resemble his 2017-self more next season, that would be a huge boost for the Dodgers.

Other possible second base options all have questions. Can DJ LeMahieu hit away from Coors field? Brian Doizer? The Dodgers caught that show last year and saw how slump prone he could be. Josh Harrison? He had a .656 OPS and 78 wRC last year, well below Taylor and Hernandez’s numbers.

As far as the catching situation, that’s a different story. I fully expect the Dodgers to make some sort of move there, as Austin Barnes just won’t cut it as the sole starter. If the Marlin’s asking price for J.T Realmuto remains outrageous, there’s still other options the Dodgers can pursue, whether it be via trade or free agent signing. Although none of the free agent catchers are very appealing, they could be a one-year stop-gap until Will Smith and/or Keibert Ruiz are ready.

Max Muncy will lead the team in homeruns

Quick, who led all of baseball in homeruns per at-bat last season? If you guessed Max Muncy, you’d be right. You also probably guessed it from the sub-headline, but that’s okay.

Averaging one homerun every 11.3 ABs, Muncy led all of baseball. Let that sink in for a moment. It wasn’t Giancarlo Stanton, J.D Martinez, Aaron Judge, or Khris Davis. Not Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Jose Ramirez, or Nolan Arenado either. Instead, it was Max Muncy.

So, why is this prediction such a “bold” one? Well, for starters, not many believe Muncy can replicate the year he had last season. And with the kind of numbers he put up (.973 OPS) it would be hard not to fall off at least a bit.

While not technically his rookie year, last season was the first time Muncy got regular playing time at the major league level. Some may think his 2018 production was an anomaly, and that he’s due to come back to earth. Chris Taylor had similar concerns surrounding him entering last year after he came out of nowhere in 2017, and some of those concerns turned out to be reality. Taylor led the league in strikeouts last season and his OPS fell 75 points compared to 2017.

Personally, I don’t think Muncy will succumb to a drastic fall-off in 2019. His approach really seems to indicate he has turned into a legit major league hitter, and one that can hit for power. I like his chances to lead the team in homeruns if he can get regular playing time, which he certainly should.

Caleb Ferguson makes 10+ starts for the Dodgers

I’m pretty high on Ferguson and his future. He had a very solid rookie year last season, and went from AA at the start of 2018 to being a key bullpen piece for the Dodgers. Although it doesn’t seem like there’s much room for him in the rotation at the moment, Ferguson is a starter by trade. And things can change. Injuries happen. Players struggle. Trades can be made.

Ferguson will likely either return to his relief role to start next season, or perhaps get sent down to AAA to continue developing as a starter. Either way, I think he’ll get a call to start some games for the Dodgers at some point in 2019, and I suspect he’ll have success.

The Dodgers use a six-man rotation for portions of the year

The Dodgers currently have a surplus of starting pitchers. The rotation has mainstays like Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Kenta Maeda. Additionally, they have Julio Urias, who might need a delayed start to keep his innings manageable, but is undoubtedly a starting pitcher when he’s ready, not a reliever. He’ll be making starts at some point this year.

Add in guys like Ross Stripling, the aforementioned Caleb Ferguson, and possibly Dennis Santana, and you have some serious depth.

I think the Dodgers will do their best to keep their starters fresh throughout the year. That may mean rotating some guys between spot starts and the bullpen. It could also mean some phantom DL stints for guys who aren’t really hurt, but could use a rest.

So, they may not call it a “six-man rotation” but it will effective be just that. And that could be a good thing for the health and durability of the starters.

The Dodgers’ Bullpen will lead the league in ERA

Last year, the Dodgers bullpen certainly had its struggles at times, and in the playoffs, there were some big spots when their weakness was magnified. Coming into next season, they’ll return a good portion of that same group but will also add Joe Kelly to the mix, who figures to be the primary set-up guy behind Kenley Jansen. A full healthy year of Tony Cingrani will likely help as well.

The Dodgers could still make some other moves before the start of the year, but if they don’t, the unit they have is capable of surprising some people. Also, I never said they’ll be the best bullpen if baseball… simply that they’ll lead the league in ERA. Dodgers Stadium is a pitcher park, and tend to boost pitcher’s numbers a little. I’ll say it’s enough to give the Dodgers’ relievers the best ERA in the league.

[button link=”…s-on-jt-realmuto/2019/01/05/” type=”big” color=”red”] Why the Dodgers should pass on JT Realmuto[/button]

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  1. Brian thanks for the reality check…Many people in Dodger Nation in my opinion need one.

    They were NEVER going to sign Harper. It would literally be I believe over Kasten’s body… It is not in his business plan which we have a good idea of as it has been the plan for the Dodgers the last 5 years and the Atlanta Braves before that. Besides signing ANY PLAYER to a 10 year $300 plus Million contract is insanity in a business plan in MLB going forward as it is Guaranteed Money!

    I agree with you on the Bullpen it will be a strength in 2019. And I agree that they will use what will amount to a 6 Man Rotation as Ryu and Kershaw can use the innings limit and Urias has one in place.

    I think Striping and Ferguson are very valuable and Ferguson has an interesting future as he is not an overwhelming guy but seems to be able to hide his pitches enough so that there is minimal hard contact.

    I would be fine with our second base options especially as the FO has swung and missed twice with Forsythe and Dozier. Let Kike and Taylor have a shot at it.

    I think they may wait for the market to mature and perhaps find a bargain basement catcher on a one year deal. I still like Smith coming up this year he is a very good catching prospect.

    Hope you are right this year The Dodgers have some breathing room as the Rockies are the only club in the NL West that isn’t rebuilding. There isn’t the pressure that they would have like in the East where you have the Phillies, Mets and Nats all signing talent and building. Or the talent in the Central with the Cubs, Brewers and Cards. Should be a fairly easy run to the NL West title and then it gets hard. But by then the Dodgers should have a well rested pitching staff and the time and money to correct any glaring hole in the roster by trade or ?

    GO Blue…

  2. the dodgers starting 8 is a joke ! lets look at it 1st base bellinger avg is poor stikes out too much muncy same thing 2nd base will come back to 3rd base turner is one of 2 legit ballplayers other is ss seager those 2 will excel. lf Pederson wont get the chance to show if he is a legit everyday ballplayer because they believe he cant hit lefties let him play the whole year then they may know, bellinger already went over him kike or taylor both are good backups but don’t hit and can taylor possible stikreout more? right field Verdugo should be ok. 2nd base all options have been mentioned none are good , go get Lemihue at least his batting avg last yrae was 270 something and his defense is good but let him play 140 games. catcher no options out there that are going to doany better than our top 2 in minors bring them up let them play cannot possibly be worse than what we had last year

  3. I like your down to earth positivity. I believe it’s an absolute reality not to sign Harper. This FO does not throw money away. It is frugal and it looks for incredible talent as if it’s going to a rummage sale.
    That said, I do believe there still could be a deal for Kluber. I don’t believe the FO will deal Verdugo. I think that’s been the hangup so far. But it’s quite likely some of the pieces we acquired from Cincinnati could go to Cleveland. Including a promising outfielder such as Toles/Taylor plus one or a combination of pitchers such as Ferguson or Stripling w/ R.Hill.
    I also love how Kike played this season. He definitely deserves a shot at second. However, I still think FA Dozier could be purchased at a steal of a price for a 2 year contract. He’s a born leader and we never got a chance to see Dozier at his best. He kept his injury to himself but still managed to hit 21 dingers and play stellar defense. He’s the guy that could easily bounce back to his glory years where he respectively hit 42hrs in 2016 and 36hrs in 2017. He’s that bottom basement purchase the Dodgers love buying and is definitely worth watching play healthy.

  4. Personally I would love it if the Dodgers signed Harper. I get that it’s a big risk, but I think we need a real game-changer in our lineup. I know Turner and Seager are solid but I don’t think either of them have the ceiling that Harper has. If he can manage to play anything like his 2015 self then any amount of money would be a bargain. I think right now the Dodgers are probably the best team in the NL, but that’s not the goal anymore. They want a World Series WIN. Right now I don’t think we’re good enough to beat the Red Sox, Yankees or Astros in a 7 game series, and I think Harper could change that. Trading for Kluber would be a big help too, though. I think either move would give the Dodgers a fighting chance against one of the big-3 AL teams.

  5. Every thing you wrote is very likely to happen, and my predictions as well. Without doubt, all of those scenarios make the most sense for this team to win short and long term. I have posted numerous times about the Dodger’s having no real interest in Harper. I personally wanted Polloch, and still believe we could get him, but his rumored asking of a 5 year deal would and should make it a no deal if he stands pat on that. The number one need for this club, is a legit right handed bat. Losing Puig’s production in that line-up is monumental if not replaced. The trade market is sellers market currently, which I believe will lead the club being forced to over pay to fill C, OF, or 2b with that right handed bat.