2018 Los Angeles Dodgers Expert Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
The Dodgers were one Game 7 win away from ending the franchise's 29-year championship drought. Unfortunately, they just weren't good enough when it mattered most. The starting pitching let them down, the lineup couldn't muster any offense, and the managerial decisions left the majority of fans scratching their heads.
Thankfully, if there is one driving factor in sports that motivates a team to do whatever it takes to win, it's redemption. The Dodgers didn't get better or worse this past offseason. They believe in the players they have in the dressing room, and they expect to be back in the World Series come late October. It's going to be tough to do since every team will be gunning for you, but I believe the Dodgers are the likeliest of the two teams to get back to the Fall Classic.
The Dodgers will open the regular season on March 29 with a three-game home series against the San Francisco Giants. Barring any injury to Clayton Kershaw, the lefty will be tasked with shutting down a revamped Giants lineup. After coming within one game of winning the World Series, the Dodgers are the betting favorite to get some redemption at +500. They are also +225 to win the NL and -200 to win the NL West. In terms of the season win total, Las Vegas has tabbed them at 96.5, and you would be getting even money on the "over".
All odds are courtesy of Bovada.
Dodgers 2018 Projected Lineup
The Los Angeles Dodgers were an offensive machine last season. The scored a total of 1,347 runs and hit .257 as a team. To make matters worse for opposing teams, the Dodgers bring back their entire lineup from last year, which is now one year older and one year more experienced.
If the season started today, the projected lineup would look like this:
1. Chris Taylor
2. Corey Seager
3. Justin Turner
4. Cody Bellinger
5. Yasiel Puig
6. Joc Pederson
7. Logan Forsythe
8. Yasmani Grandal
9. Pitchers Spot
You can essentially single out any one player in this lineup and find stats that prove last year was no fluke. Let's start with the trio of Seager, Turner and Bellinger. The first two had excellent regular seasons, combing for 43 home runs and 148 RBIs. Unfortunately, both players were hampered by injury during the postseason, which led to terrible production. Bellinger, the unanimous NL Rookie of the Year, had himself a year. He hit .267 but turned in 39 home runs and 97 RBIs. One can only think that with a year of experience under his belt that he can turn into one of baseball's most-feared hitters.
Further down the lineup is the enigma that is Yasiel Puig. Puig struggled in 2016, but he had a bounce-back campaign last season. Puig contributed 28 home runs and 74 RBIs, which put him second on the team in that category. The biggest question surrounding this lineup is what kind of production the team will get from Pederson. Pederson had a very poor year last year, hitting just .212 with 11 home runs. He bounced around the team's minor league affiliate in August before returning to the big club and making an impact in the World Series. If the Dodgers can get "good" Pederson for the majority of the year, they become an even better team than they already are.
And to round out the lineup, the Dodgers will be happy if Forsythe can replicate/better last year's numbers of .251, 6 home runs and 36 RBIs. Grandal will likely start as the main catcher, which keeps his 22 home runs and 58 RBIs in the lineup, but he will split time with Austin Barnes, who put up almost identical numbers.
Dodgers 2018 Projected Rotation & Closer
The Dodgers are sitting pretty heading into spring training with all but one of their projected starting pitchers healthy and eager to make amends for last year's World Series loss. The obvious staff ace is Kershaw, and he will finally have some quality help in the rotation. Rich Hill is coming off a surprising, but amazing 2017 season where he posted a 12-8 record with a 3.32 ERA. He also had a WHIP of 1.05 which was second on the team behind Kershaw.
Beyond Kershaw and Hill, Alex Wood also turned some heads last season and figures to do the same this year. Wood posted a 16-3 record with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. There are rumors swirling around that Wood is going to work exclusively out of the stretch this season, something that could help the 27-year-old find another level of dominance.
Behind the top three, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu are expected to close out the rotation, and both pitchers have massive question marks surrounding their name. Maeda was able to win 13 games for the Dodgers last season, but his ERA was much higher (4.22) than it was when he won 16 as a rookie in 2016. His Korean teammate, Ryu, also struggled throughout the majority of the campaign, winning just five games and converting one save opportunity.
If there is one area the Dodgers are weak in, it's the depth in the rotation. Next in line as the sixth pitcher would likely be Henry Owens, Tom Koehler or Julio Urias, all of which are subpar pitchers at best.
However, the Dodgers' bullpen still remains generally unchanged, with the exception of losing Brandon Morrow to the Chicago Cubs. Kenley Jansen will be closing games for the Dodgers. And while he is an elite closer, the relievers (Ross Stripling, Pedro Baez and Tony Cingrani) may cough up one or two leads before the Dodgers can get him in the game.
Dodgers 2018 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Los Angeles to finish 95-67 and win the NL West by 11 games over San Francisco. The Dodgers are definitely the best team in the NL West and should make it six consecutive division banners - barring any major injuries to key contributors. The lineup one again looks lethal one through nine, and the only real concern I have is the relief pitching. The starting pitching should be able to navigate the pitcher-friendly parks in the NL West, thus leading me to believe that a play on the "over" 96.5 wins is in order.
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