29 vs 1, Why It’s Everyone vs the Dodgers

Barrett Lathrop ‘21

Everything about the 2020 baseball season could be considered abnormal other than the fact that a World Series was played. With that being said, it’s no fluke that the Dodgers made it and won as the talent on that roster rivals some of the best teams ever. 

 

When you have two former MVPs in Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts in your lineup surrounded by enough great pitching to beat the all-star team then you’re in a good spot. The rotation of Clayton  Kershaw (out of prime but still highly effective), Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer (reigning Cy Young), David Price, and Julio Urias/Dustin May will be a dominant staff. To back it up from the bullpen are all-stars Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen alongside two high-upside back inning guys, Brusdar Gasterol and Victor Gonzalez. To round out the batting order along with Betts and Bellinger are former all-stars Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, and AJ Pollock along with the high-upside catcher Will Smith. This team has almost no weak points up and down as it looks like this year someone will be playing for second place to the Dodgers. But, as we know baseball is an unpredictable sport where anything can happen as no team this century has won back-to-back WS titles yet. There are a couple of teams that have the firepower to take down the Dodgers as the new playoff format allows any underdog to take out the best team in the league (3 game series 1 seed vs 8 seed). 

 

The first team I’d like to highlight is from the Dodgers division and that’s the Padres who have finally found a way to turn their team around. Their new pitching rotation is scary as it houses Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Dinelson Lamet, Joe Musgrove, and Chris Paddock. Not many weak spots on that rotation, but let's see how Lamet performs in a 162 game season as last year was a very small sample size of his talent. They also have one of the best young stars in the game in Fernando Tatis, a kid with a gorgeous swing and sticky glove. Surrounding Tatis are Eric Hosmer, Tommy Pham, Jake Cronenworth, and veteran Wil Myers. For me, this team’s issue is going to whether or not Pomeranz can replicate his dominant performance out of the bullpen from last year. He glistened with an ERA of 1.45 and a WHIP of 1.05 as he proved that he can be a great back-inning guy for any team. But, he has had issues with consistency throughout his career as after going 17-6 with the Red Sox with an ERA of 3.45, the next season he went 2-6 with an abysmal ERA of 6.06. Another thing this team needs to hone in on is the closer spot as Mark Melancon’s best days are behind him and the loss of Kirby Yates hits hard (yes they did survive without him, but still couldn’t find a consistent closer). Melancon is 35 now and I believe his age will catch up to him this season making him inconsistent down the stretch for a Padres team that will need a consistent bullpen to fight the Dodgers.

 

A team for the AL that could certainly challenge the Dodgers back-to-back crown is the Toronto Blue Jays who made a flurry of moves this offseason. Their deep batting order includes newcomers George Springer and Marcus Semien alongside Vlad Guerro, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr, and Teoscar Hernandez. That’s a lot of firepower as this team has the potential to lead the league in hits and home runs. But, I don’t have a ton of faith in their rotation, even though I’m a very big fan of Hyun-Jin Ryu as the 2-5 spot has a lot of risk/reward players. Nate Pearson hasn’t proven his place in the big leagues yet as he was only able to appear in five games for the Blue Jays last season. Tanner Roark, Robbie Ray, and Steven Matz all have their moments as great big league pitchers but they’re now past their prime as their best years are most likely behind them. This rotation is very veteran-heavy and could be dangerous come a postseason time if they stay healthy, but we have to see how Matz and Ray hold the backline of the rotation (they’ve both been very inconsistent the last few years). Their bullpen could be their saving grace though, as I like Kirby Yates as a closer after he's had the time to recover from his surgeries while Tyler Chatwood is a perfect 2-3 inning guy that can be a plug-in starter. They have also had three sub 3.00 ERA guys in Jordan Romano, Rafael Dolis, and Ryan Borucki which could be lethal for them in the regular season and playoffs. 

 

With all that being said, this year should be quite an exciting season for baseball as fans will be arriving in the stands for the first time in two years as the energy of a ballpark is something we’ve all missed. There are still a lot of strong contenders around the league since baseball is a very unpredictable sport where you can work your way from the top to the bottom. Baseball is a game of streaks, and it’ll be interesting once again to see what teams and players have hot streaks throughout the year. As always, every team has a shot at the playoffs (except for maybe the Orioles, sorry!) and it’s time to get pumped up for the 162-game season. 

 

Final Predictions for Season 

  • AL

    • AL championship game - Blue Jays vs White Sox  

  • NL 

    • NL championship game - Dodgers vs Padres 

  • World Series 

    • Blue Jays vs Dodgers - DODGERS WIN IN 5

 

Other World Series Contenders/Teams to Watch For 

  • White Sox 

    • Key Pitchers 

      • Lucas Giolitto 

      • Lance Lynn

      • Liam Hendricks 

        • Garrett Crochet 

        • Dylan Cease

    • Key Position Players

      • Jose Abreu 

      • Tim Anderson 

      • Yoan Moncada 

      • Eloy Jimenez 

        • Luis Robert

  • Yankees 

    • Key Pitchers

      • Gerrit Cole 

      • Corey Kluber  

      • Aroldis Chapman 

        • Jordan Montgomery  

        • Chad Green 

    • Key Batters 

      • Giancarlo Stanton 

      • Aaron Judge 

      • DJ LeMahieu

      • Luke Voit 

        • Gary Sanchez 

        • Gio Urshela 

        • Return of Gleybar Torres 

  • Mets 

    • Key Pitchers 

      • Marcus Stroman 

      • Jacob Degrom 

        • Carlos Carasco 

        • Edwin Diaz 

        • Seth Lugo  

    • Key Batters 

      • Francisco Lindor 

      • Pete Alonso 

      • Dominic Smith 

      • Michael Conforto 

        • JD Davis 

        • Jeff McNeil 

  • Braves 

    • Key Pitchers 

      • Mike Soroka 

      • Max Fried 

      • Charlie Morton 

        • Will Smith 

        • A.J. Minter  

    • Key Batters 

      • Freddie Freeman 

      • Marcell Ozuna 

      • Ozzie Albies 

      • Ronald Acuna Jr. 

        • Dansby Swanson 

        • Austin Riley

  • Rays

    • Key Pitchers 

      • Tyler Glasnow 

      • Ryan Yarborough 

      • Diego Castillo 

      • Nick Anderson 

        • Chris Archer 

        • Collin McHugh 

    • Key Batters 

      • Randy Arozarena 

      • Austin Meadows

      • Brandon Lowe 

        • Joey Wendle  

  • Athletics 

  • Astros

  • Marlins 

  • Angels 

    • Phillies

    • Red Sox 

    • Cardinals 

 

Newcomer Players to Keep an Eye on 

  • Trevor Bauer 

  • George Springer 

  • Marcus Semien 

  • James Paxton 

  • Yu Darvish 

  • Blake Snell 

  • Nolan Arenado 

  • Lance Lynn 

  • Francisco Lindor 

  • Kirby Yates 

  • Corey Kluber