4 bold predictions for the Dodgers in 2024

2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Masterpress/GettyImages

Last season, there were many surprising performances by Los Angeles Dodgers players. Jason Heyward went from hitting 15 home runs across 685 plate appearances from 2020 to 2022 to hitting 15 home runs in 377 plate appearances in 2023 alone. Max Muncy had a power surge of his own in 2023, tying his career high with 36 home runs.

Every season features some performances that come out of nowhere or surprise fans. Even though the Dodgers' 2024 season started out with two games against the Padres in Seoul, the home opener and the other 159 games left in the season are just around the corner. That means its time to make some predictions on who will provide those surprise performances for fans this season.

Dodgers' Surprises: Tyler Glasnow sets career-high for innings pitched

Tyler Glasnow has a reputation for being injury-prone, and his career stats (unfortunately) support that reputation. L.A. is betting on Glasnow being healthy in 2024 and beyond, despite the fact that Glasnow reached the 100-innings pitched mark (with 120.0 innings) in 2023 for the first season since 2018, and for only the second time in his career. Given how many Dodgers pitchers are already injured entering the season, Glasnow remaining on the mound has only grown in import.

Glasnow already has a bit of a head start on eclipsing his career-high because he pitched five innings during the Seoul Series, and he's scheduled to start the home opener against the Cardinals, meaning he will pitch two of the Dodgers' first three games. But, the important thing to note is that Glasnow has repeatedly stated how healthy he feels heading into 2024. If Glasnow really is healthier going into this season than he has been in years past, he should shatter his career record.

Will Smith tallies 100+ RBI

This is probably the boldest prediction in this article, given Will Smith's career high in RBI is 87, and that was achieved with 25 appearances as a DH, where he likely won't play at all in 2024 with Shohei Ohtani now on the roster. However, if Smith can copy the formula of another Dodger from 2023, even with limited appearances, he may be able to reach this very challenging achievement. That 2023 Dodger is J.D. Martinez, who had 103 RBI. Martinez's appearances were also limited, in his case due to various injuries sustained throughout the season, and as a result, he only played 113 games. Notably, he still surpassed the 100-RBI mark.

However, even when you only count his appearances as a catcher, Smith has averaged just over 112 appearances per season from 2021 to 2023. He will play in a similar amount of games as Martinez, and if Smith is hitting cleanup behind the Big 3 of Ohtani, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman consistently (as he did in both games of the Seoul Series), he will have more than enough opportunities to drive in runners, which he already started doing in Seoul. If Smith can match his power numbers from 2021-2022, when he hit 49 home runs and 45 doubles across those two seasons, his power surge will lead to a new career-high in RBI.

Dodgers set a franchise record for wins

Even though the 111 wins that the 2022 Dodgers put up is a hard number to beat, the Dodgers' lineup in 2024 is better than it was in 2022. The pitching staff, especially with respect to the frontline starters, might have been better in 2022, but in 2024, the bullpen will make up for that slight downgrade (if there even is one). Even with 100 wins, 2023 felt like a down year for the Dodgers. With significant upgrades on the roster, that likely won't happen again in 2024.

If Ohtani was pitching in 2024, this prediction might have changed to claim the Dodgers will break the MLB record for wins (116), but he won't join the rotation until 2025. There are still too many unknowns (when does Walker Buehler come back, how does Yoshinobu Yamamoto adjust to MLB, etc.) to claim that the Dodgers can rise to an all-time level of dominance like that, but the franchise record, while still being a large number, is not out of reach for this Dodgers squad.

2024 Dodgers bullpen leads the league in ERA

With all the additions to the Dodgers' lineup, there is one aspect of L.A.'s roster that has been totally overlooked in the offseason: the bullpen. While the rotation was the primary focus of offseason additions for the Dodgers, Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier, Brusdar Graterol, and Evan Phillips are back to anchor the bullpen after strong performances in 2024. Beyond those four, the Dodgers are getting Blake Treinen, J.P. Feyereisen, and Daniel Hudson back from injuries to boost the depth of their bullpen options.

If Brasier, Kelly, Graterol, and Phillips can get anywhere close to their second-half performances from 2023, and Treinen, Feyereisen, and Hudson can eventually get back to their typical levels, this bullpen will have amazing depth in terms of potential high-leverage relievers. It is also possible that Dodgers starting pitchers who are returning from injuries are forced initially to be a part of the bullpen to get built up. Add in other pitchers like Ryan Yarbrough, Alex Vesia, and any prospect the Dodgers want to lean on later in the season (out of Kyle Hurt, Landon Knack, River Ryan, etc.), and you have a bullpen built to be the best in MLB.