Monday, February 8, 2021
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021
This past Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers rocked the baseball world when they signed right-handed starter Trevor Bauer for three-year $102 million. Many baseball-knowledgeable people think the Dodgers are the best team in the Majors.
While on the paper, the Dodgers, coming off their first world championship in 32 years, look awesome, they have weaknesses. Under the expertise of Manager Dave Roberts, the Dodgers should overcome these weaknesses to win their ninth consecutive National League Western Division.
Barring a major injury to a starter, the Dodgers will have a starting rotation that rivals the San Diego Padres. While Clayton Kershaw will be 33 during the 2021 season, he still is a capable starter. In 2020, he had a surge in velocity and had an ERA of 2.16 during the abbreviated 2020 season. If Kershaw can keep his back healthy, he will be the ace of the Dodger starting rotation.
After winning the National League Cy Young award in 2020, many people assume Bauer will be the best pitcher in 2021. For most of his Major-League career, Bauer has struggled. He has experimented with 19 pitches. He has had durability and willingness to pitch deep into games. Although he experienced great success in Cincinnati during the abbreviated 2020 season, will it translate to success with the Dodgers? Bauer is an outspoken blogger, often expressing unpopular views. Will his personality fit in the chemistry of the Dodger clubhouse?
Walker Buehler can win a Cy Young Award at any time if he ever begins the season strong. During the shortened 2020 season, Buehler struggled with his control. In the playoffs, he performed admirably.
Since David Price did not pitch in 2020, no one knows how well he will perform in 2021. Many fans want the Dodgers to trade Price to lower their payroll. It is doubtful.
Julio Urìas will be a part of the Dodger starting rotation in 2021. While he played a crucial role during the playoffs and the World Series, the Dodgers envision Urìas as a full-time starter.
Although the Dodgers have a question mark for which pitcher will be their closer in 2021, they will have a strong bullpen. President Andrew Friedman has re-signed Blake Treinen and signed Garrett Cleavinger and Tommy Kahnle.
Every Dodger fan wonders who the Dodger closer will be. Unless Kenley Jansen regains the velocity and pinpoint control of his famous cutter, he cannot continue being the Dodger closer. Treinen, who has experience of the closer, could be closer, but he will be a terrific eighth-inning setup man. Joe Kelly, who also has experience as a closer, has frequent erratic periods during his Major-League career.
To me, Dustin May is the most logical choice to be the Dodger closer. He has splendid velocity and control. Yes, he sometimes will toil, but he will become a marvelous closer. While the Dodgers envisioned May as a starter, his repertoire of the pitches is fabulous for a closer.
The Dodger offense is arguably the best in baseball. However, the Dodger offense is vulnerable to left-handed pitching. Without Justin Turner and Kiké Hernández, the Dodger offense will be more vulnerable to southpaws. The Dodgers must re-sign Turner and sign or trade for another right-handed hitter.
Without either second or third baseman, the Dodger defense will suffer. While Edwin Rìos has improved his third base defense, he is no Gold Glove. Gavin Lux has had trouble throwing accurately to first base. I see Chris Taylor playing second base a lot, and this will prevent Roberts from moving Taylor to left field when his team has a lead to have the better defense. AJ Pollock is a defensive liability in left.
On paper, the Dodgers might be the best team in baseball, but they must prove it on the diamond. Over the 162-game season, anything will happen.
Monday, February 8, 2021