Dodgers: Which direction will the front office go this offseason?
Will the Dodgers go after starting pitching or a veteran bat to supplement an offense that struggled in the National League Division Series?
With the 2019 MLB season finally coming to a close with the Washington Nationals defeating the Houston Astros in the World Series, the offseason has begun. Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers’ front office face a lot of questions that allow for a variety of answers.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the postseason was the Washington Nationals and how they took the league’s oldest roster that also had one of the league’s worst bullpens and somehow managed to beat the 106 winning Dodgers in the NLDS and the 107 winning Astros in the World Series.
The current trend of a successful team in the postseason up until this point was a dominant bullpen and a young roster. Since the 2014-15 Royals dominated the AL with their dominant bullpen and core of young players making it to back-to-back World Series, many teams around the league have been trying to replicate the “Royals formula”. The Nationals after their postseason poked holes in that thought process.
After watching the Nationals roll through the postseason there are two things we can take away. One, the Nationals solved their bullpen problems by plugging in their starting pitchers. Two, key veterans in the lineup set the tone throughout every series. From Ryan Zimmerman to Howie Kendrick, the Nationals veteran hitters showed up when they were needed most.
Ever since Friedman took over in 2015 the Dodgers have done the opposite. Rather than sign aging players to contracts and trade their farm system for other impact bats or arms on the market they’ve stood pat. This isn’t a bad thing out of the Friedman era as Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson to name a few have been very productive for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers have relied on their youth to help them reach the postseason. However, when October comes around these young inexperienced players have struggled. Besides the likes of Joc Pederson who has come up with a plethora of clutch hits, the young core that the Dodgers’ offense depends on has fallen flat.
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However, the key hitter in the Dodgers offense Justin Turner has been one of the best postseason hitters of all time. Could the line up benefit by adding more experienced big leaguers?
The Dodgers in 2019 had one of the best starting staffs in the regular season posting an ERA of 3.37 as a team. However, the starters have rarely transferred that success to the postseason. Hyun-jin Ryu had the stats in the regular season to put him in Cy Young voting. Although, Ryu’s “stuff” such as velocity and strikeout percentage were lackluster.
Clayton Kershaw isn’t the pitcher he was just a few seasons ago and Walker Buehler seems to be the only true ace in October. Compared LA’s rotation to the Nationals who brought in Patrick Corbin who posted a 3.25 ERA with 238 strikeouts.
Not only did Corbin start postseason games he came into relief in several games. A key part of the Nationals’ success was the ability to take their luxury of starters and transfer them to the pen come playoff time.
The Dodgers will no doubt have a busy offseason coming off a disappointing first-round loss after reaching back to back World Series. The question is will they go after starting pitching or add a veteran bat to the youthful lineup?