We have entered the last full week of Spring Training in Arizona for the Los Angeles Dodgers. After Monday evening’s contest, there will be just three more Cactus League games before the Dodgers head back to California to take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for three games before the season starts in earnest.
We still don’t know who will be on the 26-man roster to start the season, but with this team, it almost doesn’t matter. We know the majority of the prospective squad and who will be the regular position players.
Aside from the fifth starter, there’s not much to wonder about. Whomever is chosen for the fifth starter or the last man off the bench will either step up to the plate, pun intended, or he will be replaced with someone equally if not more talented.
The Dodgers have multiple options for the fifth starter. Assuming that the first four are Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer and Julio Urías, that leaves anyone of the four of David Price, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Jimmy Nelson as the fifth starter. As long as whichever one of those is healthy and pitching like they can, you really can’t go wrong.
The same can be said for the bullpen. One or two of the pitchers not making the fifth spot can be a talented long man out of the bullpen. The Dodgers also have a plethora of options that may start the year in Triple-A Oklahoma City and join the team to make an impact at a later date.
Another unknown is how the new deadened baseballs will impact the league. Max Bay over at Dodgers Digest did a wonderful article on the Dodgers batters, and how it would impact them specifically. He surmises that it won’t have too huge an impact, with marginally less homers, and we know that the Dodgers are smart enough to adjust.
He also did one for the Dodgers pitchers, and how the deadened balls will benefit them, to varying degrees. Hopefully, Kershaw will be able to keep his misses from floating right over the middle of the plate.
The return to a regular season after the shortened season also will bring its own set of variables and unknowns to both the Dodgers and MLB. But as we’ve stated previously, the Dodgers are one of the top teams able to withstand injuries, as they have already implemented a pattern of rotating guys to keep them fresh and rested while still getting their playing time.
The unknowns don’t seem to loom as large going into this season, thanks to the fact that the Dodgers have just won the World Series. It feels good to go into the season with optimism prevailing and not tension and anxiety wondering, again, if this will FINALLY be the year they win it all.