Coming off a second-consecutive 90-plus win season and NL West title, the Los Angeles Dodgers head into 2015 with expectations of improving on their latest postseason failures. The defense has been steadily improved on paper with the additions of Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins, and the expectation of Joc Pederson taking over in center field.
How the changes will translate to the field for the Dodgers remains to be seen, though Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections have them winning 97 games next season and running away with the NL West title:
Should the Dodgers surpass the 90-win mark for a third-straight season, it would be just the third time in the franchise’s history — one of the stretches was a run of six years in which the Brooklyn Dodgers won a minimum of 92 games.
Along with being predicted to win the NL West, PECOTA projects the Dodgers will pace MLB in wins, ahead of second-highest Washington Nationals (92 wins). Last season, the Dodgers finished two games behind the Nationals for the best record in the NL after coming from behind in the standings to overtake the San Francisco Giants.
Despite the general consensus being the Dodgers have improved their roster, Zack Greinke wasn’t quick to admit as much. What will be key for the Dodgers is how the backend of their rotation holds up, and if the bullpen is improved.
Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson are capable No. 4 and 5 starters, though whether they can remain healthy is a question mark. While Haren had his share of struggles as the fourth starter last season, he got off to a strong start and managed to win 13 games with 186.0 innings pitched.
Chris Hatcher, Sergio Santos or Joel Peralta could be the answer to the Dodgers’ search for late-inning help, but that’s far from set in stone. No matter some of the uncertainty, Los Angeles is expecting its first World Series in 27 years.