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Dodgers: Things to Look For Before the 2019 Season

Walker Buehler
May 10, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler (21) pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

As we all recover from the 2018 World Series, I want to acknowledge some new facts about the Dodgers heading into the 2019 season. Some of these facts many of us might not like but I lay them out for all to see.

Dodgers
Apr 9, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen (74) delivers a pitch in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Kenley Jansen Is Having Heart Surgery

We were all shocked when we heard Kenley Jansen was having heart issues again. It all started in early August and they have been treating it with medication. Most of the Dodgers fans wanted Kenley to care for his health first. At the same time Kenley welcomed his third child. At some point in November he will have his second heart procedure to treat his condition. We offer prayers and thoughts for Kenley as he gets his heart problems addressed.

Walker Buehler is the ace

He probably won’t start on Opening Day in 2019 but I know who I want in the mound for a big game. It’s Walker Buehler who dominated game 163 and game 3 of the World Series. He also pitched well in NLCS game 7. Whether Clayton Kershaw comes back or not, 2018 showed us that there is a new ace of the Dodgers pitching staff.

Dave Roberts will be the Dodgers Manager

It looks like the Dodgers and Dave Roberts are working out a multi year contract. I’ve had many disagreements with Doc but this is probably the right call. From most accounts he’s held in high regard by the players and works well with the front office. My concern is that I’ve not seen improvement with his handling of the pitching staff. That needs to change.

There Needs To Be Modifications To Hitting Approaches

How many times do we see the Dodgers with runners in scoring position and the hitters look like the are mainly concerned with hitting a homer, even with two strikes. It’s a selfish approach. Many blame Turner Ward but I saw a quote from Chris Taylor talking about how Ward wanted singles. If the team wants to improve, then this is a great place to start. Maybe watch the Red Sox hitters in the World Series and how some adjusted.

The Bullpen Needs Help

Kenley Jansen has had some great seasons for the Dodgers but had a tough 2018. He started off slow (low velocity was huge) due to a spring training vacation, gave up more homers than ever, two blown saves in the World Series and has his heart surgery coming up. The bullpen cannot be a bunch of wild cards but they can’t just throw money at the problem. They did not help the World Series roster at all during the trade and roster deadlines like I hoped.

The Defense Must Get Better

According to FanGraphs the Dodgers defense was much better in 2017 than in 2018. In some key defensive statistics here are some highlights (terms defined here):

DRS UZR Def
2017 84 29.9 33.9
2018 60 -24.9 -25.9

Issues with defense cause pitchers to have to get more outs which means they throw more pitches. Maybe some slow down of position switching calms things down? In some cases players didn’t play positions during Spring Training that they played in the field. I don’t remember Cody Bellinger playing the outfield in Spring Training and I know Max Muncy did not play second base. The injuries to Justin Turner and Corey Seager shook up all the pre-season plans.

Dodgers
May 8, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Alex Verdugo (61) singles in the fifth inning of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Verdugo Needs To Play Every Day

It is blatantly unfair to have Alex Verdugo in the minors or on the bench in 2019. I believe he is the kind of hitter the Dodgers need in their lineup. He hits all pitchers, has a smart plate approach and is good at getting on base. If the Dodgers don’t want to make room for him then it is only fair to trade him. If they plan on platooning him, then trade him. He’s earned a full opportunity.

Versatility Will Still Be Valued

The Dodgers and most teams will again carry 13 pitchers, which means, 12 position players. Players like Kiké Hernandez, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor will have extra value with their versatility. I am hoping that Max Muncy can develop more versatility, including left field. He needs to improve in the infield positions, also, but he started to look better at 1B.

Platoons Will Continue

This is something I don’t like much. I want all position players to get at bats against all types of pitching. This is the only way they can improve themselves. If players, over the first few months, show drastic splits then they get platooned during the stretch. That’s what I want but I know the Dodgers will platoon more than what I prefer. 

The Dodgers Have A Lot Of Excellent Young Pitching

Walker Buehler, Juio Urías, Dennis Santana, Caleb Ferguson, Dustin May, Mitchell White. All of these guys will be heavy contributors in 2019 or 2020 at the latest. There are also a lot of other names to keep an eye out for in the MLB top 30 prospects list. The organizations seems to be getting a grasp on developing pitchers and the list is strong.

Dodgers Really Need To Re-Work Maeda’s Contract

The contract of Kenta Maeda is an 8-year incentive laden contract for a little more than $3 million per year. However, the incentives are based on him being a starting pitcher. They were also in place because of some interesting findings in his physical. I fully expect him to start for most of the season, then become a reliever at the end of the season. As long as he’s healthy then the contract incentives need to be re-worked to be fair to Kenta.

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/2018-dodgers-position-player-grades-ag1214/2018/10/31/”]2018 Dodgers Position Player Grades[/button]

Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

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  1. That’s a pretty good assessment. A couple things you didn’t address;
    Catching; will they find a short term solution until Ruiz and Smith are ready or trade for Realmuto?
    Second base! They have been trying to fill that spot since Gugenheim took over. Will they trade for a young quality 2nd baseman, sign a veteran or let Taylor/Kike and Muncy play there.
    Also, yes they do need to get an established reliever, and as for Buehler, he is good but let him do it over a llittle longer period of time before we crown him the ace.

    • Not Taylor much until he lowers his strikeout rate. I think he has options left-they should use them.

  2. I expect Alex Verdugo to be the teams everyday center fielder and then Urias makes the Opening Day Roster as the teams number 3 starter!

  3. My official offseason outline of the Dodgers 2019 roster
    According to Loro
    Pitchers
    Starting Rotation
    Clayton Kershaw
    Walker Buehler
    Julio Urias
    Kenta Maeda
    Rich Hill
    Bullpen
    Caleb Ferguson
    Ross Stripling
    Alex Wood
    Tony Cingrani
    Pedro Baez
    Josh Fields
    Kenley Jansen
    Catchers
    Austin Barnes(Starter)
    Kyle Farmer(Backup)
    Infielders
    Starters
    1st Baseman Cody Bellinger
    2nd Baseman Max Muncy
    Shortstop Corey Seager
    3rd Baseman Justin Turner
    Reserves
    David Freese
    Chris Taylor
    Outfielders
    LF Joc Pederson
    CF Alex Verdugo ?RF Yasiel Puig
    Reserve
    Matt Kemp
    Kike Hernandez

  4. My official offseason addition of the Dodgers 2019 batting lineups
    According to Loro
    Regular lineup
    1.LF Joc Pederson
    2.SS Corey Seager
    3.3B Justin Turner
    4.1B Cody Bellinger
    5.RF Yasiel Puig
    6.2B Max Muncy
    7.CF Alex Verdugo
    8.C Austin Barnes
    9.Pitchers Spot
    Dodgers 2019 Matchup Lineups
    Vs RHP
    1.LF Joc Pederson
    2.SS Corey Seager
    3.3B Justin Turner
    4.1B Cody Bellinger
    5.RF Yasiel Puig
    6.2B Max Muncy
    7.CF Alex Verdugo
    8.C Austin Barnes
    9.Pitchers Spot
    Vs LHP
    1.2B Kike Hernandez
    2.SS Corey Seager
    3.3B Justin Turner
    4.1B Cody Bellinger
    5.LF Matt Kemp
    6.CF Alex Verdugo
    7.RF Yasiel Puig
    8.C Austin Barnes
    9.Pitchers Spot

  5. Bellinger back to First, Verdugo center. Belli needs to work on his plate approach, stance and swing. He barely started trying to make adjustments at the end of the year in the play offs. I hope he works on that in the off season, we need him to progress.

  6. Do you see anyone that can be the Dodger second baseman on the roster, who would you prefer? Is their a prospect in the minors that can be called up in a year or 2? Gavin Lux maybe or do you think Kike can hold it down?

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