Dodgers 2022 season preview: Projected lineup, rotation and three questions facing World Series favorites


It is usually cliché to jot down that the pennant “goes by means of” one metropolis or one other. Not so in the case of the Nationwide League. The Dodgers have been such a pressure beneath Andrew Friedman’s steerage that the NL Championship Sequence has at the very least visited Los Angeles in 5 of the final six years (even when solely in principle throughout the irregular 2020 playoffs). The Dodgers have gained mentioned pennant thrice in that span.

Can the Dodgers make it six of seven? On paper, they might appear to have a robust likelihood. This offseason was a busy one for Friedman and firm, nonetheless, with a number of stars departing — starter Max Scherzer, shortstop Corey Seager, nearer Kenley Jansen — and one notable star arriving, in first baseman Freddie Freeman.

For a really feel on the place the Dodgers stand, and what questions this membership must reply, let’s get to the meat of our season preview.

Win whole projection, odds

  • 2021 report: 106-56 (second in NL West; misplaced NLCS)
  • 2022 Sportsline projection: 110-52
  • World Sequence odds (by way of William Hill Sportsbook): +500

Projected lineup

  1. Mookie Betts, RF
  2. Trea Turner, SS
  3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
  4. Justin Turner, 3B
  5. Max Muncy, DH
  6. Will Smith, C
  7. Cody Bellinger, CF
  8. Chris Taylor, 2B
  9. AJ Pollock, LF

Final season’s Dodgers ranked fourth in runs scored and seventh in wRC+, a catch-all metric at FanGraphs that controls for ballpark, amongst different variables. This was already an excellent lineup, then, and Freeman’s addition means it should not undergo a lot if any slippage over Seager’s departure. Freeman is the one new face within the beginning lineup, however it ought to be famous that the Dodgers bench might characteristic two newcomers, in platoon infielder Hanser Alberto and outfielder Kevin Pillar. (We wrote extra about how good this lineup ought to be elsewhere.)

Projected rotation

  1. Walker Buehler, RHP
  2. Julio Urías, LHP
  3. Clayton Kershaw, LHP
  4. Andrew Heaney, LHP
  5. Tyler Anderson, LHP

The Dodgers spent most of their cash on Freeman, however they spent most of their vitality addressing their rotation. Trevor Bauer is anticipated to be suspended by the league sooner or later for the abuse allegations that had been made towards him final yr, and each Dustin Could and Danny Duffy proceed to rehab from surgical procedures. That led the Dodgers to retain Kershaw in addition to add middle-to-back-end choices by means of free company, in Heaney and Anderson. Tony Gonsolin, who began 13 video games final season, could be discovered within the bullpen part. The Dodgers do have some younger arms working their approach by means of the system who advantage watching, specifically Ryan Pepiot and former first-round choose Bobby Miller.

Projected bullpen

The final time Kenley Jansen did not report a save for the Dodgers was the 2009 season. That’ll change this yr, with Jansen having left for the Braves. Treinen, who enters the marketing campaign with 79 profession saves, figures to get the primary shot at changing Jansen. The Dodgers did add Hudson by means of free company, and will have the ability to fold Tommy Kahnle and Jimmy Nelson into their plans after they’ve made a full restoration. (Similar, likewise, for Duffy and Caleb Ferguson.) The Dodgers’ bullpen had the second-best ERA in baseball final season, so this group has massive cleats to fill.

Now for 3 questions concerning the 2022 Dodgers.

1. Can Bellinger return to kind?

In our estimation, the most important query going through these Dodgers is what they get out of Cody Bellinger, the 2019 NL Most Helpful Participant who was one of many worst gamers within the majors final season. That is not hyperbole, by the way in which: he had a 45 OPS+ in 350 journeys to the plate, contributing to him being value -1.5 Wins Above Substitute, per Baseball-Reference’s calculations. Solely 4 gamers completed with worse marks.

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Comparatively, Bellinger did present some life within the postseason, albeit in a restricted pattern and to not his previous normal. In 39 plate appearances, he batted .353/.436/.471 with a house run and a double. He nonetheless struck out 11 occasions, and it is honest to jot down that the Dodgers would really like greater than a .118 ISO from him over the period of a full season.

What’s most worrisome about Bellinger is that every one his underlying measures went within the unsuitable course, too. He did not hit the ball as exhausting or at pretty much as good an angle as steadily; he expanded the zone extra usually; he swung extra usually; he whiffed extra usually; each his strikeout and stroll charges went the unsuitable approach. Maybe none of this can be a shock — you are unlikely to be “unfortunate” over that many repetitions — however we level that out simply to say he is in want of an overhaul.

Whether or not or not Bellinger will determine all of it out and get again to creating All-Star Video games and difficult for offseason {hardware} is anybody’s guess. He is solely 26 years previous, nonetheless, and it is exhausting to consider that his expertise merely evaporated into the night time air.

What the Dodgers get from Bellinger will go a great distance in figuring out not solely their plans on the deadline, however what they intend to do heading into subsequent offseason, at which level he’ll be about to enter his stroll yr.

2. What’s life after Jansen appear to be?

As we famous above, it has been a very long time for the reason that Dodgers did not have Jansen nailing down the ninth inning. How would possibly issues differ this summer time?

Our expectation is that Treinen will get the primary alternative at taking up the ninth-inning reins. He is been on this place earlier than, having notched 70 saves over a three-year interval with the Athletics previous to becoming a member of the Dodgers. Treinen is coming off an outstanding season, during which he posted a 1.99 ERA (206 ERA+) and a 3.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 72 innings, so the percentages are he’ll be simply high quality.

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Ought to Treinen falter, the Dodgers might flip to Hudson, a free-agent addition who has served as nearer previously, together with in 2020 with the Nationals. Shy of that, Los Angeles might go to a committee method till the commerce market develops. At that time, all bets are off about who may very well be getting their save alternatives. 

Regardless of the case, it is doable to carry two opinions: that an elite end-game reliever, like a main Jansen, is a useful commodity; and that it is not mandatory so as to win a World Sequence. In spite of everything, the Braves simply ousted the Dodgers and threw a championship parade with a better who they’ve since usurped with Jansen. 

3. How a lot will Heaney, Anderson present?

We famous within the rotation part that the uncertainty surrounding the Dodgers’ rotation meant that they needed to signal Heaney and Anderson to bulk up their rotation. What, pray inform, do these two carry to the desk?

Heaney, 30, had a horrible season that noticed him put up a 5.83 ERA (76 ERA+) in 129 innings break up between the Angels and the Yankees. His fundamental drawback was residence runs, as he yielded 29 in 30 appearances. He is all the time been extra vulnerable to the gopher ball than the typical bear, however this was past his regular threshold by a good quantity.

There’s ample motive to assume the Dodgers ought to get extra from Heaney than his 2021 effort, together with regression to the imply and his innate attributes as a pitcher. He has a pure backspin fastball and three pitches that mirror each other’s spin; the Dodgers could well teach him a “sweeper,” or their speciality breaking ball, too, giving him extra bat-missing capacity.

Anderson, in the meantime, is contemporary off a season during which he amassed a 4.53 ERA (93 ERA+) in 31 begins with the Pirates and Mariners. He ranked in at the very least the 80th percentile or higher in exit velocity towards; stroll fee; and chase fee. In different phrases, he suppressed high quality of contact, threw strikes, and coerced batters to go fishing. That is an excellent mixture on paper.

If we needed to guess, each can be league-average or thereabout starters. Scherzer they are not, however that ought to be sufficient for the Dodgers to really feel content material with their rotation till they will discover an improve, both on the free-agent market or internally, be it by means of Could’s return to well being or the additional growth of Pepiot or Miller.



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