The Dodgers and Padres are set to give fans quite a show this year. The two National League West teams are loaded with talent after impressive offseason moves on both ends. The biggest question around the league though is whether the Padres will be able to topple them in the west.
San Diego comes into the 2021 season with essentially the same offense, save for a few additions. Their biggest upgrade was easily their starting rotation, adding options that were not a part of the team in 2020. The Padres will be without Mike Clevinger for the year and the health of Dinelson Lamet is anyone’s guess. So, they made the moves necessary to keep pace with the Dodgers.
Then the Dodgers went out and added Trevor Bauer in free agency. That move seemed to put them back ahead in the matchup, though many believed they never fell behind. So what would need to go wrong for Los Angeles in order for the Padres to top them? For MLB writer Juan Toribio, the answer lies in the bullpen.
I think the bullpen kind of went south[if that happened]. I’m not big on bullpens having roles, I kind of saw that with the Rays…but I think there is something to be said about a bullpen just believing that the guy coming into the game is going to get it done…If that were to happen, it would have to be the bullpen structure did not work out as well as the Dodgers hope it will.
The Dodgers are still relatively traditional in the sense that they still maintain a specified closer role. That being said, a lot rides on Kenley Jansen having a good year in 2021. Luckily, Los Angeles is in a position where they could have a short leash on him. They could opt for another arm in big spots if he struggles early.
The good news is that Kenley did take massive steps forward in 2020. Admittedly, his numbers did not always show that. He missed barrels at a much better rate than ever before in his career, with an average exit velocity of just 82.7 mph. His average launch angle is ultimately what hurt him though, with hitters blooping far too many balls into the outfield.
If Kenley can live at the bottom of the strike zone and maintain that contact rate, he could be huge for the Dodgers in 2021. If not, there are a lot of young arms ready to go behind him. The NL West is going to be fun!
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