Dodgers projected lineup, pitching rotation, bullpen & closer

Feb 25, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder James Outman against the
Feb 25, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder James Outman against the / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers' 2023 season was upended just three days into their slate of Spring Training games when Gavin Lux went down with a torn ACL. He'll miss the year and it's unclear what the longer-term plan will be at the all-important position.

That throws another uncertainty into the mix, with left field, center field and some bullpen spots still unsettled. Second base and third base also warrant a discussion, because some might say Miguel Vargas and Max Muncy may not be the steadiest everyday options at those spots.

Fans are well aware the turnover from last season is notable. Trea Turner, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Tyler Anderson, Tommy Kahnle and Chris Martin are gone. All of those guys played big roles in one way or another. Fans might be glad to see Craig Kimbrel and Joey Gallo find new homes, but they better hope their replacements can provide better production (especially if they can't replicate the veteran presence).

It's crazy to say, but the Dodgers' downgrades and bad luck leave a lot of uncertainty heading into the new season, with many questions still requiring answers with Opening Day coming March 30. But we'll take our best shot at predicting what the starting lineup and roster might look like.

Dodgers Projected Lineup for 2023 Opening Day

  1. RF Mookie Betts
  2. 1B Freddie Freeman
  3. 3B Max Muncy
  4. DH JD Martinez
  5. C Will Smith
  6. CF James Outman
  7. LF Chris Taylor
  8. 2B Miguel Vargas
  9. SS Miguel Rojas

Betts is probably your leadoff guy, even though there's been some chatter about moving him down in the lineup. Losing Lux affected that plan considerably. The only "surprise" here is Outman starting in center field, but he's been hitting in Spring Training. If he keeps doing that, he'll be starting to kick off 2023.

As for the bench, there's backup catcher Austin Barnes and outfield David Peralta, who signed a deal with LA just a few weeks ago. Our two outside-the-box predictions? We're going to say top prospect Michael Busch and minor-league addition Jason Heyward squeeze their way onto the Opening Day roster, with Trayce Thompson getting the boot.

Dodgers Projected Pitching Rotation for 2023 Opening Day

Barring injuries, the Dodgers should actually have one of the league's better starting rotations. And they have enough young talent to back it up and begin building for the future should something drastic occur.

  1. Julio Urías
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. Tony Gonsolin
  4. Dustin May
  5. Noah Syndergaard

But there are a lot of injury concerns here. Kershaw hasn't pitched a fully healthy season since 2015. Gonsolin dealt with forearm issues at the end of last season. Both May and Syndergaard returned for their first extended action in 2022 since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

That leaves young arms like Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller with an opportunity to make an impression this spring and be next in line to fill one of these important spots should somebody go down.

Dodgers Projected Bullpen and Closer for 2023 Opening Day

Bullpen: Ryan Pepiot, Caleb Ferguson, Alex Vesia, Matt Andriese, Brusdar Graterol, Yency Almonte, Victor Gonzalez

Closer: Evan Phillips (but likely subject to change)

Alex Reyes and Jimmy Nelson probably won't be ready to absorb a full workload from the onset, so they'll be a bit delayed in joining the big-league roster. Dave Roberts just said Daniel Hudson probably won't be ready for the start of the season. Shelby Miller ends up being a sunk cost. The other flyers the Dodgers took don't work out. Injuries will happen, guys will get shuttled to and from the minor leagues. This remains the biggest work in progress on the roster.

NEXT STORY: What does Dodgers infield depth chart look like after Gavin Lux injury?