Now that there’s only a week to go before the Dodgers open the 2019 season, some thoughts about spring training so far are in order.
A.J. Pollock is a smart player—Many fans were weary of the oft-injured A.J. Pollock signing, and that’s fair. Looking at how he was injured, though, he seems to have just run into bad luck as opposed to being a player that is not healthy. One thing that stands out to me is he’s a very smart player, in addition to being a very good player. His heads up play in last night’s game against the Cubs, racing in from center field to cover second base, allowed the Dodgers to turn a 1-5-8 double play. He’s seemingly fitting in quite well in the Dodger clubhouse, even joining in Ross Stripling‘s hair band. While spring training stats don’t mean everything, in 16 games he’s slashed .289/.385/.556/.940 with three homers, three doubles, and a stolen base. If he keeps that steady all season, he will be well worth the signing.
A bad spring training doesn’t mean a bad year—Max Muncy and Chris Taylor are not having the best spring. Muncy is batting .143, and has yet to homer. Taylor is only slightly better, batting .191 with one homer. Muncy has been battling a sore arm, which may be the reason he’s not hitting well at the moment. This team has enough other hitters to carry either or both while they get it together. And if they don’t, they have the players to replace them.
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish—It’s okay that Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias not ready to start the season as usual. Kershaw will start the year on the injured list, Buehler is not ramped up in pitch count yet, and Urías will start the season in the bullpen. All these pitchers will be heavily relied on to get the Dodgers through to the World Series again, and that’s more important than where they start the season. It is a huge bummer that Kershaw will not get to continue his streak of Opening Day starts, but I am here for Rich Hill having that honor. (Hill has not yet been named Opening Day starter, but his current path lines him up perfectly to do so).
Seager is back!—Corey Seager played in his first game since April of last year, and he picked up right where he left off. In his first at-bat, the ball almost left the field, and his second at-bat, it did. He told reporters after the game that it was a good sign that he had no thoughts about his hip or his elbow during the game. His bat back in the lineup is maybe the best addition of this season.
Justin Turner is amazing—Just wrap him in bubble wrap and send him back to Los Angeles for the next week.
Feast or famine. While the Dodgers offense is no doubt going to be powerful, and hit a bazillion home runs, it appears there will also be a lot of strikeouts. Hopefully, that is something they can work on as the season progresses.
All in all, the team looks ready to go. I have a feeling it will be a much better start to this season than it was to last year’s campaign. And let’s hope for a better end, too.