After a franchise record-setting regular season that ended in disaster, the 2023 Los Angeles Dodgers are banking on a number of emergent talents on their road to getting right this year.
They're also banking on next winter's free agency, but that's a story for another tax threshold.
If the Dodgers are going to maintain supremacy in the NL West, they're going to have to hope a significant number of young contributors emerge and carry a large amount of the water (James Outman and Miguel Vargas, we're looking at you). This isn't a run-of-the-mill Padres team behind them, of course. It's a team that advanced to the NLCS, upset the Dodgers in the postseason, will enjoy a full season of Juan Soto, and just added Xander Bogaerts as an additional thorn in the division's side.
On paper, the Padres are the better team on Opening Day. As last year's Dodgers learned, though, they don't play the big games on paper.
If the Dodgers are going to fend off the Pads, they'll need these three players to improve in 2023 -- and they'll also probably need to absorb lackluster efforts from the latter two, who were previously intrinsic to the program.
3 Dodgers Who Will Be Better in 2023
Dustin May, RHP
If May isn't "better" than he was at the tail end of his Tommy John recovery in 2022, then the Los Angeles Dodgers' patchwork rotation has serious problems.
Luckily, the odds are extremely in the young fireballer's favor, after already dealing with and shrugging off the most common impediment in any developing pitcher's life.
Last year, May vowed to start games when he returned to the mound in the late summer, and start he did -- though not with the intended effect. In six starts, he managed to miss bats (29 Ks and 21 hits in 30 innings), but struggled with his control, not an uncommon problem for post-rehab periods.
It was likely, upon May's return, that Dodgers fans wouldn't see the real version of the red-headed right-hander until he had a full healthy offseason to work with. 14 walks and 15 earned runs (4.50 ERA) in 30 innings isn't the real May, and the 25-year-old's ceiling should be relatively unlimited this season. The stuff is there. The prep work will be, too. He'll improve.