2014 Final Record — 94-68 (1st Place)
2015 Projected Record — 98-64 (1st Place)
Despite a NL West crown in 2014, it was another disappointing finish with an early post-season exit. Cruising through the division doesn’t mean much when you get knocked out in the Divisional Round and see your division rival win the World Series. Small market genius, Andrew Friedman, brings his talents to the Southland as the new Dodgers President of Baseball Operations. After finding value in Tampa for all these years, he now has deeper pockets to assemble a Championship caliber team. Ironically, he brings in a “Moneyball” style GM in Farhan Zaidi who he poached from Oakland. Immediately, they put their stamp on the team with a few trades. Out goes Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon and Dan Haren. In comes Jimmy Rollins, Yasmani Grandal and Howie Kendrick. They add free agents Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson and International Free Agent, Hector Olivera. Will the facelift result in a Championship? I think it does mean another NL West Title, but I’m not sure the carousel of players make them better in the postseason. Let’s breakdown the 2015 fantasy impact of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Projected Starting Lineup
|1||Jimmy Rollins – SS||He’s not a dynasty target at age 36, but he can still get you 10 HRs and 20 SBs. OBP isn’t there anymore as .325 would be an optimistic goal.|
|2||Carl Crawford – LF||Crawford is likely to sit against tough lefties which will limit is overall value. Could still hit 10-12 HRs and steal 25 bases. He is allergic to taking pitches as he doesn’t walk, but he doesn’t strikeout either making him perfect in the two hole.|
|3||Yasiel Puig – RF||Young, aggressive and exciting, Puig took the league by storm when he came up in 2013. I like Puig to hit 25 HRs, 95 RBIs and hit over .300 with a OBP around .375. He is aggressive at the plate which will lead to a ton of strikeouts, but you can live with it. If he can grab 10 steals he could end up a top 25 overall fantasy producer for 2015.|
|4||Adrian Gonzalez – 1B||Not the MVP candidate that he used to be, Gonzalez is still a top 50 fantasy target this year. He turns 33 this year, but expectations are that he should top 25 HRs, 100 RBIs and hit around .290.|
|5||Yasmani Grandal – C||The Dodgers traded for him so he would be their starting Catcher. On days he’s not catching, he could fill in for AGone at 1B. He should provide nice power numbers from the Catcher’s position as 20+ HRs and 75+ HRs are within reason.|
|6||Howie Kendrick – 2B||Kendrick is a one year fill-in until the Cubans are ready to take over. He is a more valuable professional hitter though than he is fantasy hitter. His average should hover around .290 to .300, OBP around .350, with 75 RBIs. If your league has deep roster spots for a middle infield (MI) or utility infielder (INF) slot, he may have some value. He is more an injury fill-in for standard leagues.|
|7||Joc Pederson – CF||Joc is by far the most compelling fantasy story for the Dodgers in 2015. The future 30/30 guy has seemingly been anointed the starting CF job in Chavez Ravine. He struggled in his brief call up last season and his high strikeout rate is a red flag. If he can improve his contact rate and get on base, he can cause havoc on the base paths. This could bring some confidence to his bat. He could be a stud fantasy hitter one day, but for 2015 temper expectations to a slash line of around .260/.345/.430. 15+ HRs/15+ SBs are realistic and he may get closer to 20/20 if they move him up in the order. Great numbers for a rookie but not worthy of being drafted in the first 5 rounds of a redraft/standard keeper league which I have witnessed.|
|8||Juan Uribe – 3B||Placeholder for whichever of the Cubans takes over (more on that below). He should not be on a fantasy roster unless you have extremely deep lineups.|
Impact Hitting Prospects for 2015
1. Hector Olivera, 2B/3B – At the time of this article’s publication, Olivera is still waiting for a visa to enter the country. It is not a lock that he passes his physical and he might need surgery on his elbow. He hasn’t played much in the last few years and will need some work in the minors to get ready. All that aside, the Dodgers didn’t sign the 30-year-old Cuban star to have him buried in the minors. He is likely best suited for 2B, but the Dodgers have a greater need at 3B this season and he will likely take over there as soon as he is deemed ready by the Dodgers brass. After all the injuries he as dealt with in recent years teams are unsure if he still has any plus tools, but he is known to have some pop with excellent plate discipline and excellent bat speed. He certainly can have value as a middle infielder if he makes it to the Majors this year and would be a worthy add. If you have a deep roster and room to stash someone who may or may not play this year, he may be worth a flier. Otherwise, keep an eye on his progression through the off field issues before you get too excited about him for 2015.
2. Alex Guerrero, 2B/3B/LF – Alex is another Cuban import which the Dodgers have given a lot of money. He likely would have been in the Majors all of last year if it weren’t for his ear “injury.” He’s not a great fielder at any position but can man 2B or 3B. They tried him in LF last year just to work his bat into the lineup. His main contribution is power. If he has 2B eligibility he could be a nice pickup at some point this year with a regular gig. He struggles at times to make contact which may limit his overall production. His best chance is to take over at 3B if/when Uribe is so bad they can’t run him out there any longer. If Olivera needs surgery, Guerrero would likely be first up to take over in the case of injury or ineffectiveness. He is definitely a “wait and see” before tying up a roster spot for him. At 28, he’s not really a prospect, so if he doesn’t hit now, he might not cut it in the Majors.
3. Scott Schebler, OF — Scott is my under-the-radar prospect who could hit immediately if ever given an opportunity. His best chance to play would be from a trade to a team needing a left-handed power bat. He probably can only play LF (or DH) which limits his opportunity and he has been blocked with layers of outfielders in the Dodgers organization. If he gets the call due to injury or trade, he would be a nice waiver wire add for teams needing a lift in power. Although speed is not his game, he could sneak a few steals if he gets regular playing time. Dynasty league owners have taken notice of him, but I haven’t seen him on my standard keeper rosters. Keep an eye out for him.
Final Lineup Thoughts
The Dodgers definitely have some bats to target this year, but only Puig and AGone are Top 50 fantasy performers. Pederson is an intriguing player, but don’t overpay unless you are in a dynasty league. Ethier should not be on your fantasy team this year. His usefulness has passed. Rollins and Kendrick have value as mid-tier middle infielders with one or two category impact. Overall, this might be the 3rd or 4th best offense in the NL West, but it should be enough production to support the pitching staff lead the Dodgers to the division crown.
|1||Clayton Kershaw||Not much to say here…Should be the Top pitcher off the board in virtually every league. Depending on scoring model, he could be the top overall fantasy scorer. He should be expected to get 20 Wins, sub-2.00 ERA, Sub-1.000 WHIP, close to 10 K/9 and just under 2.0 BB/9. He can help you win a title…as long as you aren’t playing the St. Louis Cardinals. He can’t seem to beat them.|
|2||Zack Greinke||Greinke could be the ace of most other pitching staffs. He seems to be more comfortable as the #2 man. 200+ INN and 200+ Strikeouts are all but assured if he stays healthy. Sub-3.00 ERA and around a 1.100 WHIP are reasonable expectations. He is still a Top 50 fantasy performer, but slides outside this spot under Kershaw’s larger shadow.|
|3||Hyun-Jin Ryu||Ryu is hurt and will likely miss the first few weeks of the season. Assuming he comes back healthy, he is an excellent buy low candidate. Over the entire year, he can still get 15 Wins, low-3.00 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and sub 2.0 BB/9. Many owners are leery of his health, but I suggest you go out and get him.|
|4||Brandon McCarthy||Talk about turning a season around…McCarthy was a dreadful 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 2014 when he was acquired by the NY Yankees. After the move to the Bronx his stats were 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA and an excellent 6.31 K/BB. I would expect him to fall somewhere in between in 2015. If he stays healthy, 13-15 Wins, sub 4.00 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 are attainable.|
|5||Brett Anderson||This one is a roll of the dice. He hasn’t pitched a full season since his rookie campaign in 2009 and hasn’t reached 100 INNs since 2010. He had some glimpses during his five-year stint in Oakland, but he can’t be trusted to stay healthy and is not worth any type of investment. Stay away unless you are streaming SP.|
1. Kenley Jansen (CL) — The Dodgers closer is hurt and is likely to miss at least April. Because of this foot injury, he has not gone as high in drafts this year as he should have. When healthy he is a top five closer in baseball. Even missing a month, he should be good for 35+ saves, 2.25 ERA, Sub-1.000 WHIP and filthy 14.0 K/9. Don’t be afraid to go after him. You can survive the first month without the saves and will want a dominant closer down the stretch.
2. Everyone Else — I think the Dodgers are a little disappointed that no one really stepped up to claim the closing role for Opening Day. Joel Peralta was thought to be the favorite, but did not impress during the Spring. Chris Hatcher, who came over in the Dee Gordon trade, was a thought. His Spring was worse than Peralta. Sergio Santos has had some experience as a closer during his days in Toronto. He was just OK this Spring. My take is Mattingly is going to go with the hot hand and hope to get Kenley back sooner rather than later. Hatcher and Peralta will likely get your holds during the season and 9.0 K/9 so both are worthy of roster spots in leagues with deep RP rosters and that counts holds. Santos will get you 11 K/9, but not much else, and hurts you with his control (4.4 Career BB/9). It’s probably wise to stay away from the Dodgers bullpen after Kenley except in deep leagues.
Impact Pitching Prospects for 2015
Joe Wieland, RHP and Zach Lee, RHP (AAA) — Let’s be honest, the only pitching prospect that we are drooling about is 18-year-old, LHP, Julius Urias. He is still a year or more away. Therefore, the only guys worth discussing are the ones that have a chance to start the season in the rotation while Ryu recovers from his shoulder injury. Enter recently acquired Joe Wieland and former Dodgers’ first round draft pick Zach Lee. The later was a prep star and high-profile prospect for the Dodgers. He has four pitches, but they have not developed and all are average or slightly above average which profiles him as a fifth starter. Like Lee, Wieland is a former top prospect, but that was with the Padres. The Dodgers acquired him in the Matt Kemp deal and look at him as more than a throw in. He has had two separate brief stints in the Major Leagues with Tommy John surgery sandwiched in between, in 2013. He seems healthy and had a solid Spring. The Dodgers schedule will allow them to skip the 5th spot the first time through the rotation. It seems like Wieland is the better fit to be called up for that first start and could get a few more before Ryu comes back. If he does a decent job, he could be in line for some long relief work and spot starts throughout the year. Lee will likely get a chance this year, but I think it will be much later in the season. Neither will help the redraft or standard keeper leagues all that much. Dynasty leagues have cooled on these guys unless it’s a large format league. These are just guys to keep an eye on during the season. They might provide a temporary rotation fill-in during the season or be decent streaming options.
Final Pitching Thoughts
This pitching staff is top-heavy with enough skill to get the team to a Division title. However, they severely lack in-depth and probably can be avoided completely after Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu and Jansen. These four can be trusted…unless they are playing the Cardinals.