Dodgers: Without Bryce Harper the Dodgers are Still the Team to Beat
The Dodgers may have disappointed part of the fan base by signing AJ Pollock instead of Bryce Harper. Even without Harper, the Dodgers are still the team to beat in the National League.
The Dodgers front office has been criticized lately for their comments about payroll and fan attendance. The majority of that stems from the fact that the Dodgers appear out on Bryce Harper after signing AJ Pollock. Harper will likely stay in the National League with the Phillies viewed as the favorites, but that doesn’t change much for the Dodgers.
When pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a couple of weeks the Dodgers are still going to be the team to beat in the National League. Many will opine that the American League winner will be better than the Dodgers but there is a long way to go until the Dodgers possibly appear in another World Series. The last two deadlines, Andrew Friedman has acquired the top pitcher and hitter available in Yu Darvish and Manny Machado.
This coming summer you can bet the house that if there is a difference maker there for the taking, Friedman will once again pull the trigger on a season-altering trade. Not all upgrades are acquired before the season and for the Dodgers, they still need to wait and see what happens with youngsters like Alex Verdugo and Julio Urias. There is a chance both perform to the Dodgers’ high expectations and if they don’t then upgrades can be pursued.
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The two things the Dodgers know for sure is that they will go into the season with one of the best starting rotations in baseball and one of the best and most balanced lineups. Last year the Dodgers’ starting pitching depth was challenged and they aced the test but hopefully, in 2019 their starting five will remain relatively healthy. They also have Julio Urias who is as talented as any Dodger starter waiting in the wings.
The lineup will welcome back Corey Seager who when healthy is one of the best hitters in baseball. Justin Turner, Max Muncy, and Cody Bellinger will make up the middle of the Dodgers’ order and newcomer AJ Pollock will help do damage against lefties which is something the Dodgers didn’t do in the postseason. With Alex Verdugo getting playing time the Dodgers’ outfield will also be one of the best defensive outfields with Verdugo, Pollock, and Bellinger all covering plenty of ground.
If the Marlins get reasonable with their asking price there is still chance the Dodgers could add J.T. Realmuto to their lineup which would give them one of the best lineups in all of baseball. Even as is, the Dodgers are one of the best teams in baseball and if Austin Barnes rebounds to something close to his 2017 self then the Dodgers would have a top ten catcher in baseball with top catching prospects still on the way.
The Dodger bullpen was solid last season but this go around Kenley Jansen will hopefully be healthier and already appears to be in better shape. A healthy Jansen combined with the newly signed Joe Kelly gives the Dodgers one of the best 1-2 punches at the end of games. If Tony Cingrani and Josh Fields are healthy then the pen becomes that much better in 2019. While adding Bryce Harper would’ve been a flashy signing, the Dodgers are still the beat in the National League heading into the 2019 season.