Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2020

With Dodger “summer training” beginning Friday, every Dodger fan has a question about the strange upcoming season. I have many concerns caused by COVID-19 shortened season.

Having only three exhibition games before Opening Day is not enough for pitchers to build sufficient arm strength. No promising rookie can earn a position.

The Dodgers have a rookie starter Julio Urias, though he is not a rookie. Urias has had a history of shoulder injury. Since Urias is young, he doesn’t know how to condition by himself. He cannot have any luxury to struggle with an outing.

The Dodgers can ill-afford to have a slow start. With sixty games, the Dodgers cannot win their eighth consecutive National League Western Division title. It would be a shame for the Dodgers unable to extend their streak of winning divisional titles.

If the Dodgers have an unfortunate injury to a key player, how will they respond? In 2018, when Justin Turner missed the first five weeks with a fractured wrist, the team performed extremely poorly. This could be a disaster in 2020. Any player can strain a hamstring or an oblique and miss at least 21 games. Can the Dodgers perform well even if Walker Buehler or Cody Bellinger injures himself?

Although the Dodgers have more depth than they did in 2018, they could be represented as a problem.

Mookie Betts shall make a difference offensively. In the 2019 NLDS, the Washington Nationals exploited the Dodger weakness against left-hand pitching. As a right-handed batter, Betts likes to hit against left-handed pitching. Last year, Betts batted .295 while with the Boston Red Sox. Some good American League players need time to adjust to the National League.

Although Betts should not need much time to adjust to the National League pitching, he might not as high batting average as he would have during a complete 2020 season. It will not be surprising if Betts would not have as many home runs as he did in Fenway Park.

Betts has supreme running speed, even faster than Bellinger. During manager Dave Roberts’ tenure, the Dodgers have not utilized a player’s speed offensively. The Dodgers ought to have Betts steal as much as he should. I would have Turner hit behind since he doesn’t have a strikeout rate; therefore, Roberts can play hit-and-run. Since the Dodgers have plenty of power, Betts shouldn’t worry about hitting dingers unless it hinders his ability to reach base.

Clayton Kershaw, Buehler, and Alex Wood need to perform well in every start. David Price, a veteran pitcher who is coming off an awful season caused by a wrist cyst that needed to be surgical removal, is a question mark.

To me, Roberts should go with a three-man starting rotation. Until September, no starter should throw more than fifty pitches. This should limit the possibility of injury to Kershaw, Buehler, and Wood. Having Ross Stripling, Urias, and Price pitch two or three innings following the starters will give a dominant five or six-inning performances. Pedro Báez, Blake Treinen, and Joe Kelly will have stellar late-inning performances. If Kenley Jansen, who has a history of heart trouble, plays in 2020, the Dodger pitching staff will have the most elite pitching staff in the Western Division.

All baseball fans must understand this upcoming season is nothing like anyone has seen before. If the Dodgers do not perform well in 2020, their fans should not panic. At the same time, if the 2020 Dodgers win a world championship, their fans should celebrate but know the world championship in 2020 is not the same achievement as normal.

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