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Truths About The Dodgers Going Into 2020

Some truths explored.

Dodgers
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after a strike out during the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

As the off-season approaches it is time to look forward to some new realities of the Dodgers for the 2020 season. I wrote a similar article around the same time last season. Instead of recovering from a World Series loss we are recovering from a first round exit. There were many great parts to the season but it ended as a huge disappointment. This article will lay out some truths that people will not want to hear but I will let the chips fall where they may.

Walker Buehler Is The Ace

I said this last year and now it is more true than ever. Who did the Dodgers go to when it really matter? It was Walker Buehler and he was excellent in both of his playoff starts. He will have some fits of inconsistency when people will see Clayton Kershaw go 6 innings and give up 2 runs, consistently. It will be natural to say Kershaw is still the ace but, when it really mattered, who got the most important playoff starts?

Dave Roberts Is Still The Manager

I wrote about some reasons why the Dodgers may kept Dave Roberts as the manager. I still don’t understand many of his playoff bullpen decisions over the last three years. However, the truth is, he is the manager for 2020. I do think it will be tougher for him in 2020 as many fans have turned on him. He should almost expect to get boo’d quite a bit, especially in the early part of the season.

The Farm System Will Continue To Surprise

The 2019 season flooded the team with some players who played key roles in the team’s success. Alex Verdugo was expected to contribute and he was excellent before he got hurt. Who would have thought Matt Beaty, Will Smith, Tony Gonsolin, Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Edwin Rios and Kyle Garlick would have been played such important roles. Don’t be surprised to see names like Josiah Gray, Jeter Downs, Keibert Ruiz, D.J. Peters, Omar Estevez, Logan Salow, Victor Gonzalez and Jordan Sheffield make their debuts in 2020.

The Bullpen Could Be Very Different

Dodgers
CINCINNATI, OH – MAY 18: Kenta Maeda #18 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on in the first inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 18, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 4-0. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

We’ve already heard Andrew Friedman not give Kenley Jansen a real vote of confidence during his post-season press conference. Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin will contend for starting pitching positions and the playoff ace, Kenta Maeda will also start the season in the rotation.

Some of the starters might find themselves in the bullpen to limit some innings. We don’t know which Joe Kelly will show up. Adam Kolarek was a pleasant surprise after being acquired from the Rays at the Trade Deadline. One issue with him will be the 3 batter minimum.

Pedro Baez is one year away from free agency and the Dodgers have not been hesitant to trade players a year before free agency. There are a lot of question marks and Dave Roberts did not show much confidence in them during the most important outs of the last game.

I’m interested in seeing what Dennis Santana can do in the bullpen. It looks like the bullpen is in his future. Jordan Sheffield and Tony Gonsolin (if he isn’t in the rotation) could really change how the bullpen looks in 2020. Two very under the radar left handers include Logan Salow and Victor Gonzalez. It is not uncommon for teams to have a lot of turnover in their bullpens and the Dodgers could have a lot, depending on who is in the starting rotation.

Kenta Maeda Will Be In The Bullpen In The Post-Season

He will start the season as a starter and will get in about 140 innings before the Dodgers put him in the bullpen. I’d rather have him in the bullpen all season but his pride and contract basically demand he be a starter.

Some Hitters Have A Lot To Prove

Too much of the offense really stumbled during the playoffs. I know it was over just five games but A.J. Pollock, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger have a lot to prove. Bellinger’s slash line in the playoffs for his career is .178/.234/.326 (AVG/OBP/SLG) while Seager’s is .203/.275/.331. Then there is Pollock’s 11 strikeouts in 13 at bats in the 2019 playoffs. With Bellinger and Seager being such key hitters during the regular season, they have to produce a bit more than their previous playoff efforts.

Some Key Guys Could Get Traded

Last year the Yasiel Puig trade rocked Dodgers fans quite a bit as he was a fan favorite and productive. He also had a nice 2018 postseason. Yet Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood were all traded to the Reds. Both Puig and Wood were one year away from free agency. Joc Pederson, Kiké Hernandez and Pedro Baez are eligible for free agency after 2020. Don’t be surprised if any or all of them are traded. Justin Turner is only one year away from free agency, but I don’t see him going anywhere.

Justin Turner Needs To Play A Lot Of First Base

Speaking of Justin Turner, I hope the rumors of Justin Turner playing more at first base are true. He begins the 2020 season at age 35 but he is still one of the best hitters on the team. It is most important that he is healthy and rested for the playoffs and playing first base could help towards those ends. We could also see he has slowed down a bit on defense, especially bunt coverages. Bottom line, try and put some bubble wrap on JT.

Gavin Lux and Will Smith Are Starters Moving Forward

These should be pretty obvious but Gavin Lux and Will Smith have done more than enough in the minor leagues and showed they should be able to handle major league pitching. My only fear with Lux is that they continue to platoon him. There is nothing worse than platooning your top prospects right out of the box. The only question I have is who will be the backup to Smith.

Clayton Kershaw Has Had Enough Chances To Be A Playoff Hero

Clayton Kershaw is one of the greatest pitchers of all time. He is also not the same pitcher he was 2-3 years ago. The Dodgers keep trying to make him some kind of postseason hero and it isn’t going to happen. He is good for 6 innings and 2 earned runs for each start. His fastball and slider are not very far apart in velocity and his slider doesn’t slide so much anymore. The curveball will be key for him getting past just being good and another pitch would be nice. I think the starting rotation in the playoffs needs to be strong enough where Kershaw only gets one start in a series. That means he would be the number 4 starter. The Dodgers need to put him in the best position for him to succeed based on where he is now, not 2-3 years ago.

Maybe the Astros should treat Justin Verlander the same way.

A.J. Pollock and Joe Kelly Will Be On The Team In 2020

The “big” (for the Dodgers) free agents signed in the 2018-2019 off-season were disappointments on some levels. They each had some good moments but more was expected. I don’t expect the front office to admit any failure by trading either one of them yet. Let’s hope both can rebound in 2020.

The Fan Base Cannot Wait Until 2020

The Dodgers clearly have a lot to prove and seeing how the fanbase is watching the World Series and thinking, “this could/should be the Dodgers.” I know I find myself thinking that it is weird to have almost a stress-free October. One thing the Dodgers fans know, the Dodgers should have gone further this year and it seems they can’t wait until 2020. Remember, the All-Star Game will also be at Dodger Stadium.

Final Thoughts

This will be an off-season where the front office could do some things a bit differently. I do hope so. Nothing will surprise me this off-season including doing nothing. There are a lot of issues to deal with and these basic truths I’ve identified in trying to read the team will guide them during the off-season. I cannot wait to see what happens.

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

27 Comments

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    • No he does not need to be if they consider him a starting player. Then he must show that he can not be another Joc Pederson and Matt Beaty who cannot touch LHP. Look, one reason for the Astro’s success is they have a middle INF of Correa and Altuve who have shown they can hit both hands of the opposing pitcher. One big reason why the Dodgers continue to fail in the PS is the inconsistencies brought with an offense that cannot compete against both sides of the pitcher and are platooned. The more successful teams do NOT have to platoon a bunch of players they way Roberts does And Roberts coming back is already a HUGE LOSS going into 2020

      • Agree with most but Beaty had 34 PA against LHP; a little early to declare him unable to touch them.

  1. Don’t get Cole he folded in his first World Series start the book will be out on him all over the NL especially

  2. Put Kershaw on the trade block, $31 million a year. Bellinger is not an MVP, Seager is over-rated. Angelenos we have problems.

  3. It doesn’t matter who the Dodgers keep or trade, as long as Roberts is there they will
    not win in the post season. Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.

    • Hello, James, great post and I fully concur because when all is said and done IMHO Dodgers will be no better next year than they were this year and I also doubt they will win 106 games again. I am not expecting much and missing the post season may thus be a blessing in disguise should the FO make no significant up grades whatsoever.

    • I concur but unfortunately we must accept that he will be back and accept that he and Freidman will conduct things in the same way next year, so it’s best to lower one’s expectations for 2020 at this point in time.

  4. Some one asked me back in Aug “do you think the Dodgers are going to win it all this year?” and my reply was ” Not as long as Roberts is there”

  5. Tim thanks for article I agree with you. The only changes I see are possibly with back up catcher, They may keep Martin for veteran presence as they lost Freese. I think they should trade Pederson as his stock should be high. I would also trade Taylor as he strikes out too much for someone with limited power. The 2020 team should be as good or better than the last. Younger and more profitable with a lower salary hit. But will only win in the 90’s as I believe the West will get better. But the Dodgers will still win the West easily.

    Regarding the comments ….Tough crowd…The Team won 106 games! And got younger! And will continue to get younger. They do not need starting pitching or really pitching at all as the young arms can cover if correctly used.
    The Dodgers will never win the WS with Roberts as Manager. His decisions are from the Heart and not strategic. He is more concerned that his players Love him than making the hard decision.You cannot win against an equal opponent with that philosophy They won 106 games because they were that much better than most teams and the NL West collapsed.

  6. Whether or not Roberts goes or stays, it doesn’t change the fact that four years in a row we have seen the Dodger bats go dead in the post season. I would think that is a beyond chance or bad luck. But the FO and the Friedman Fanboys will tell you otherwise. I would expect more of the same in 2020.

  7. I agree with most of this story, but it fails to hold Andrew Freidman accountable for his LACK OF ACTIONS over the last 3 off seasons. A child could see the HUGE deficiencies and lack of support behind Kenley Jansen who Roberts has far too many times, had to use for more than 3 outs due to no BP reliability. Jansen is now broken. Maybe he would have been anyway, maybe not. Regardless, there is NO reliable setup man in the pen and Freidman knew this two years ago. Baez should be a 5th inning option, if that. If Freidman holds onto Kelly and Pollock to avoid personal embarrassment for horrible signings that we all predicted, this along with his ignoring the bull pen needs should get him fired. You cannot build a Championship Team without building a Championship BP. Prospects are great, but their value is NEVER greater than that of building a complete Championship team.

  8. Robert’s screwed the pooch leaving Kersh in to implode. Had we taken the lead in the 9th, he would have brought Jansen in to blow it as well. I have a die hard Dodger buddy and we watch every game on TV and text every night and he has always said, as long as Robert’s is Manager, we will never win WS. I argued and defended 30 and said this is our year, #wsorbust, #dodgers2019 #wehavethehorses yada yada yada! I’m starting to believe him. The problem is, he is a likeable guy, a players Manager, toes the analytical Co. line, is great with the fans and Community plus his regular season record is ridiculously good. Who could replace him? Maddon is gone, Giradi gone, I would back up the brinks truck to lure Bochy out of retirement…. imagine what respect he would command with this young Dodger core? The Veterans who are running out of seasons? We are stuck Dave! Hopefully he can break his own curse? Too much talent! Bound to push through one of these years? I know I’ll be watching! #bleedbluetilidie #dodgers2020

  9. A flip-flipping lineup is no trick and it has proven not to work. Platooning means your players are not reliable. Any player that has the opposition shifting on you, needs to start Spring Training real early with opposite field hitting. Biggest failure was contact hitting.
    We have a lot of problems, that’s why we’ve failed miserably.

  10. This a pretty accurate assessment . Then the question is, “where do you improve, and how?” Will Friedman leave this group intact and tinker around the edges or does he bring in a reliable rh bat? Does that player go to the outfield, 3rd or 1b ? Are there players available by trade to fill that need? Whose the next Arrenado or Rendon we can get for some prospects?

  11. My humble opinion..Dodgers.not win an world series.because bad desicions and where those desicion come from.Manager.
    Every body want a home run.what happened whit the real base ball ?? Now everybody whant to be a hero !!! Material of course they have but very poorly desicion at the important time…so..solucion better managers whit the authoroty over the players

  12. Any idiot knows that going to the 8th inning Kolarek had to face Soto. The only move that needed to be contemplated heading to the 8th was who faces Rodon…Kershaw or Big Red? Even if Rodon goes deep, the Dodgers still lead by a run. After Kolarek faces Soto, then Maeda comes in to clean up the inning. Then the next decision point is whether you let Maeda finish it in the 9th or bring in Jansen This is Bochy 101. I not only blame Roberts, but Honeycutt and Geren as well. Someone needed to shake Roberts up and tell him to get Kershaw out of there.

  13. All these comments blaming Roberts are so stupid! Yeah hes the one playing on the field and oh Kershaw hes a vet n should stop choking!

  14. You have made a lot of great points all very true. I am very glad someone is doing that. But the front office needs to know as well. When you buy teams like Dodgers or Lakers or Yankees. The fans expect Championships not just play offs or winning your division. That would satisfy Clipper fans but not Lakers. If you want to keep the fans you MUST WIN CHAMPIONSHIP. That requires winning manager, coaches, and talent.
    Also Look at Altuve or Cole post season production. Look at Bellinger and Kershaw. The Dodgers as a team need a SPORT PSYCHOLOGIST to find out why so many of them CHOKE in the key moments.

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