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Stock Up, Stock Down for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Top 10 Prospects for Week 12

The Los Angeles Dodgers have had a moderately successful 2015 thus far. They sit in first place in the National League West even though half of their Opening Day rotation is out for the year, Joc Pederson has been a breakout star and new additions Yasmani Grandal and Howie Kendrick have been valuable members of the lineup.

All has not been perfect, however. Jimmy Rollins has struggled, and the bullpen has suffered its fair share of injuries. The farm system appears to be well-equipped to handle this problem, though. With a series of high-strikeout arms and an elite shortstop, the Dodgers may be able to solve many of their problems internally.


Notes: The following list is courtesy of Stats courtesy of and are current through June 28.

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What We’ve Learned About the Los Angeles Dodgers Near the Halfway Mark

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ lead in the National League West is just 1.5 games, which can be seen as both a positive and a negative at this point of the season. On one hand, the team has suffered massive injuries to key contributors and remains in first place. On the other hand, though, it has gotten some surprisingly positive performances but has been unable to build any kind of lead on San Francisco.

Thus we have learned that this team is flawed. Its flaws are not irreparable, nor are they necessarily damning. The team certainly has many positives as well. The following sections will touch on the main takeaways from the first half of the season—both positively and negatively.

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5 Things We’ve Learned About the Los Angeles Dodgers Through the First 21 Games

Through the first three weeks, the Los Angeles Dodgers have not disappointed. They have the third-best record in the National League, and their 13-8 mark is good for a two-game lead over the Colorado Rockies in the division. However, they have not quite done it how we expected.

Injuries have forced a series of unpredictable lineups, and manager Don Mattingly has been forced to get creative. General manager Farhan Zaidi has built a roster that enables the team to adjust, and the adversity the Dodgers have faced has given us a bit of a window into the problem-solving this team will use.


*Stats via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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7 Reasons to Be Optimistic for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2015 Season

After winning the NL West each of the last two seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers head into 2015 as the clear favorites in the division. They are an excellent team—projected to win 91 games by FanGraphs—and are chock-full of exciting storylines and impact players who are fun to watch.

I have detailed the players and stories that I believe to be the most exciting. Whether it be the on-field product or the off-field decision-making, everything is working for the Dodgers right now. It is an exciting time to be a Dodgers fan.

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3 Last-Minute Moves the Los Angeles Dodgers Should Try to Make

Spring training has begun, and the Dodgers are still a few weeks away from moving from Arizona to Los Angeles. However, their roster is still slightly in flux; I believe the platonic ideal of their Opening Day roster is not what it would actually look like if the team broke camp today.

Expensive players remain on the roster, and contractual issues ensure that those players will be on the 25-man roster unless they are no longer in the organization. Therefore, the following moves will be designed to create extra roster flexibility.


Trade Andre Ethier

This is the single most important move the Dodgers could make. They are clearly trying to move him, as recent reports have indicated that they are willing to pay “about half” of the money still owed to the outfielder, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. What this indicates to me, though, is that they may not be trying hard enough.

Ethier is both expensive and unproductive, and he takes up a valuable roster spot. The lefty is owed about $54 million over the next three years, and he does not provide enough value to be worth anything close to that. He hasn’t posted an ISO above .200 since 2010, and the presence of Yasiel Puig and the Carl Crawford/Scott Van Slyke platoon means he will have to be a center fielder. Unfortunately, the defensive metrics paint a bad picture: FanGraphs’ UZR has him as a solid negative in center field.


Trade Alex Guerrero

This move is not an either/or proposition with regards to Ethier. Guerrero has a clause in his contract that stipulates he cannot be sent to the minors without his permission, but I don’t think the Dodgers would want to keep him on the big league roster if they did not have to.

Guerrero’s skill set matches Justin Turner’s pretty well, and the Dodgers are already well stocked with bench bats. Turner is the backup infielder, and Chris Heisey and Scott Van Slyke are outfield options. While Guerrero could well be a better hitter in the long run, we don’t actually know if that will be the case.


Sign Rafael Soriano

Soriano is the only notable free agent left, and he certainly isn’t perfect. He is a 35-year-old reliever, but he also has a recent track record of success. He’s posted a 2.84 ERA and 3.36 FIP over the last three years, and he would come free.

The Dodgers bullpen was notoriously bad last year, and their decision to release Brian Wilson clearly indicates they are aware that spending money on relief pitchers is a fool’s errand. Soriano, though, would have to be a cheap option at this point in the offseason, and he would be worth a flier.

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Los Angeles Dodgers: Players Turning Heads Early at Spring Training

As all (or most) people reading this are well aware, spring training began last week—and the Los Angeles Dodgers have already tied twice. And while seven games is neither enough to be a validation of existing ideas or to justify an opinion reversal, it is worth taking a look at some of the top performers thus far.

Nearly all of the players on this list will be hitters, for the simple reason that there are a grand total of zero pitchers who have thrown five innings. The hitters, though, have each had a few at-bats, and there have been some noteworthy performances that are worth pointing out. Each player presented here has a chance to have a real role with the team, so not everyone with an impressive OPS will be listed.

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Chances of Kenley Jansen Replacement Options Winning Closer Job This Spring

With the recent news that closer Kenley Jansen will be out for two or three months, the Los Angeles Dodgers will have a new back of the bullpen for the first part of the season. There are a few different potential replacements currently on the Dodger roster: Joel Peralta, Yimi Garcia, and Dustin McGowan.

Those three seem the most likely because of their combination of track record and pure stuff. Typically, closers throw hard and strike batters out, and each of those three has the potential to do that.


Joel Peralta, 5 Percent

Peralta is the most established member of the Dodger bullpen. He will be 39 years old on Opening Day, and he has filled in as a closer before as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. He has 12 career saves, and he still throws really hard, as you can see from this chart from BrooksBaseball.

He seems to be the most likely option to get the first shot because he has virtually no platoon split and he will slot in at the back end of the bullpen anyway. It would be a seamless transition to bump him back to the eighth inning when Jansen comes back.


Yimi Garcia, 2 Percent

Garcia is at the opposite end of the experience spectrum and isn’t seen as an elite reliever prospect given his lack of incredible strikeout potential. His career strikeout rate in the minor leagues is 10.8 per nine innings, which would have ranked around 30th in the majors last year. However, he was a closer in the lower minors early in his career, and he accumulated 36 saves across 2012 and 2013. Because of that track record and experience in the ninth inning, he could get a shot—although that is unlikely given his youth.


Dustin McGowan, 1 Percent

McGowan is probably a long shot, but he certainly has closer potential. He was a mediocre starter who missed a couple of years with injury, but the Dodgers signed him as a reliever. He has never put up elite numbers, but his stats as a reliever are better than as a starter. Additionally, he still has excellent velocity so could be a dark-horse candidate if Peralta or others fail in the job. However, he would have to perform at a level above what we have seen him do.


Others, 1 Percent

There are a few other potential options that have late-game experience. Paco Rodriguez was excellent in 2013 but barely appeared in 2014, so he is a long shot. Brandon League has 74 career saves but has essentially turned into a platoon reliever unable to get lefties out. J.P. Howell was quite good for much of 2014 but then faded down the stretch, so others will likely get a chance before he does. The further down the list we go, the less likely it is that any individual pitcher keeps the job over even the others on this list, let alone Jansen.


Jansen, 90-plus Percent

Ultimately, though, the only way anyone other than Jansen is the closer by midseason is if he cannot get back on the mound. The big righty from Curacao is one of the best relievers in all of baseball, and he should be reinstalled as the closer as soon as he gets back. However, the scary nature of this surgery—two or three months for a foot injury is worrisome—makes it difficult to rely on the listed timetable.

Jansen is a great pitcher. He has the third-highest strikeout rate and third-best xFIP among all relievers over the last five years. His dominance cannot be overstated, and so there is no performance from any of his potential replacements that would result in him losing his job.

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Top Offseason Options for the Los Angeles Dodgers to Finish off Winter Plans

The Los Angeles Dodgers have nearly filled their roster. Their depth chart is balanced and complete, with multiple quality options at many positions. The biggest potential weakness is an injury in the middle infield, as Darwin Barney and Justin Turner are competent players but would be stretched too far if given extended playing time.

Pitching is the other element of roster building, and it is the only real remaining area for improvement. The Dodgers’ rotation is top-heavy but an injury risk, as Hyun-jin Ryu made just 26 starts last year, Brandon McCarthy made 30 starts for the first time last year and Brett Anderson hasn’t thrown 100 innings since 2010. This lack of dependability means that rotation depth is a necessity.

Even with the offseason additions of Joe Wieland and Mike Bolsinger, the Dodgers could still use extra arms. The idea that a team can never have too much pitching holds especially true when every option beyond the top four is unproven at the major league level. When added to the dismal performance of the 2014 bullpen (22nd in ERA), extra arms are a necessity.

Notes: Available free agents are courtesy of the MLB Trade Rumors list. Advanced statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs.

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Projecting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 5-Man Rotation for 2015

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation is undoubtedly the strength of the team. It is loaded.

Two Cy Young winners head the staff, and the back half is talented as well. Legitimate arguments can be made that Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu are each among the top 20 pitchers in all of baseball, and new acquisitions Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson have question marks but are talented.

The team’s success will likely hinge on the offense, but that is because the rotation is expected to be fantastic. In 2014, they ranked second in the majors in ERA, and there is no reason to expect they would be significantly worse in 2015.


Note: All advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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5 Prospects Set to Make a Name for Themselves in 2015

Joc Pederson emerged from the woodwork in 2014 to become a relatively household name among Los Angeles Dodger fans. The year before, Yasiel Puig filled that role. In a system as deep as the Dodgers’ currently is (and with a front office that clearly knows what it is doing), young or unheralded prospects emerge every year to present themselves as legitimate big leaguers.

They come with varying degrees of certainty. Elite prospects with first-round pedigrees (hello, Corey Seager) are more likely to be everyday starters than late-round prospects who toiled in obscurity for a few years. However, everyone on this list appears to have some sort of a big league future, and it is important for Dodger fans to know their names and what to expect.

Notes: All rankings referred to are courtesy of the team rankings, and the Dodgers list can be found here. I have not seen any of these players and am not a scout; I read scouting reports and follow their in-season performances.

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