Los Angeles Dodgers 2019 Season Preview: Fantasy Analysis

2018 Record: 92 – 71

Projected 2019 Record: 93 – 69

2018 Recap & 2019 Team Outlook

Two straight seasons of strong regular season play. And two straight World Series losses. 2017 and 2018 for Dodgers fans should have felt anything but disappointing, yet it is always tough to give up a World Series championship two years straight, especially given that their 2017 loss was capped by an at home defeat in game 7 to the Astros.

However, manager Dave Roberts can only feel optimistic heading into 2019. The team only seems to be getting better and better and, despite the loss of some key players, they are expected to win the NL West for a record 7thstraight season. Key players such as Max Muncy and Justin Turner look to turn the rumor that “the 3rdtime is the charm” into a reality. Hungry for revenge, surely the Dodgers can’t let another World Series escape them this year.

2019 Dodgers Storylines

The Dodgers reported to spring training earlier this year ready to prove to the MLB world that they are once again going to be contenders for a World Series. However, as soon as they showed up, some big problems came to light.

Obviously, no one can really fill the void that has been left by a departing Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Manny Machado (who recently signed a 10-year, 300-million-dollar contract with the Padres). But more importantly is what is the deal with Clayton Kershaw? Dave Roberts reported that Kershaw seemed far from himself in his first two bullpen sessions of the spring. Roberts decided to give Kershaw some rest. He is currently nursing soreness in his left shoulder, making his status for opening day unknown.

Another important question surrounds whether the Dodgers will be able to acquire a Machado-type player mid-season? However, if the offense can prove strong during the first half of the season, they might not need to pick up anyone.

Dodgers Starting Pitchers

Clayton Kershaw– Despite his preseason struggles and injury, Kershaw is still the Dodgers number one guy. Season after season he baffles players and awes fans. After all, when you have a career ERA of 2.39 and more than 10 years of experience, why wouldn’t you be your clubs ace?

Walker Buehler– After being drafted by the Dodgers in 2015 and debuting in 2017 , Buehler has put up strong numbers in his first two seasons. He went 8 – 5 last season with a 2.62 ERA over 24 games pitched. Most notable was his 2018 World Series Game 3 start against the Red Sox in which he gave up no runs over 7 innings pitched. He’s certainly going to be playing a bigger role in the rotation this season.

Hyun-jin Ryu– Ryu has been with the Dodgers since making his MLB debut in 2013. Over 5 seasons with the Dodgers, he is 40 – 28 with a career 3.20 ERA. While his 2018 season was up and down, he looks to solidify his spot in the rotation this upcoming season and reach his full potential as a strong NL southpaw.

Rich Hill– If the 2018 postseason told us anything, it was that this veteran can still bring it. The 38-year-old is going on to play his 15thMLB season and is still throwing well from the rubber. He went 11-5 in 2018 with a 3.66 ERA. He hasn’t announced retirement yet, but Hill looks to finish strong given that this season could be one of his last.

Kenta Maeda– Maeda started his MLB career in 2016 with the Dodgers and has been there ever since. While he hasn’t yet lived up to all he was supposed to, the 30-year-old still has many years of baseball left in him and looks to keep on grinding. He’s 37 – 27 in his career with the Dodgers posting a 3.80 ERA.

Dodgers Relievers

The Dodgers have had a strong relief core for the last several seasons and 2019 is no different. Despite showing signs of slowing down, Kenley Janson continues to be dominant at the closing position. His 2018 World Series was a bit disappointing as he blew two saves, but other than that he turned in a strong 2018 season. Pedro Baez is another good reliever to keep your eyes on. The Dominican native has turned in several solid MLB years thus far, posting a 3.01 ERA. You also can’t forget about the relief squad’s newest acquisition in Joe Kelly from the Red Sox. This guy can throw hard and was a big part of the Sox 2018 world series win. He will surely be valuable as well.

Dodgers Hitters

If there is going to be any big change between the 2018 and 2019 Dodgers, it would certainly be on the offensive side. Dodgers fans will surely miss Puig and Kemp, and maybe even the controversial stud Machado, but they are excited to welcome several new talents, most notably center fielder AJ Pollock.

In addition to Polluck, fans are excited to see the return of core Dodgers players such as Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Max Muncy. Turner put up a strong 2018 season, finishing with an overall batting average of .312. While 2018 wasn’t by any means as impressive as his rookie season, Bellinger still slugged 25 home runs and knocked in 76 RBI’s throughout the season. He also played in every single game.

Finally, Muncy might be the most underrated player on the Dodgers team. He slugged a whopping 35 home runs during the regular season and added some impressive postseason performances to his resume. Baseball fans and critics alike hope that the Dodgers will begin to use him more and more. He is surely going to develop into one of the stars of this organization.

 

Dodgers Projected Lineup:

  1. AJ Pollock
  2. Corey Seager
  3. Justin Turner
  4. Cody Bellinger
  5. Max Muncy
  6. Chris Taylor
  7. Joc Pederson
  8. Russel Martin
  9. Pitcher

 

2019 Noteworthy Fantasy Pitchers

Walker BuehlerWalker Buehler – Walker Buehler is now a fantasy name you have to pay up  to get. He is coming off a strong sub-three ERA season, where he had 151 strikeouts in 137.1 innings. Buehler combined that strong strikeout stuff with a 50% groundball rate. He has all the numbers and stuff to become a very good arm for the Dodgers and for fantasy owners. Projections coming in for Buehler look good, and he seems the safer option from this rotation given the injury concern to Clayton Kershaw. Buehler is currently going top 50 in drafts.

Clayton KershawClayton Kershaw – We have always viewed Clayton Kershaw as one of the few pitchers to reach for early on. Now things look different. At age 30, Kershaw has started to slip in durability. He has pitched 149, 175, and 161 innings over the last three years. Not bad, but he is never going to hit that 200 mark, which is not a big deal in the era of dominating bullpens. However, Kershaw has seen a drop off in velocity, and his breaking stuff isn’t the same. With Kershaw’s shoulder giving him issues already in Spring, there is a big risk.

2019 Noteworthy Fantasy Hitters

Cody BellingerCody Bellinger – Cody Bellinger followed up his 39 home run rookie year with 25 homers. His strikeout rate dropped a bit, as did his power. Not a big deal for Bellinger, who had his hard-contact rate stay over 40%, and he didn’t develop any groundball tendencies. He had an increase in infield popups, but overall 30+ HR is in his range of outcomes. Bellinger will look to lead the Dodgers in home runs.

 

Max MuncyMax Muncy – From undrafted fantasy player, to home run target, Max Muncy broke onto the scene last season with 35 home runs. Muncy has a high strikeout rate as most power bats do these days, but the .319 ISO is something that they can put up with. We have a very small sample size with Muncy, who has only been fantasy relevant for a year now. If he can keep the hard-contact and lift the ball, home runs will continue.

  
Noah Wadhwani lives in Sacramento, California but grew up in Boston as a die-hard New England sports fan. He is currently a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley and is intending to major in applied mathematics or economics. Aside from sports, Noah’s other main passion is travel and has spent time living abroad in Denmark and Argentina.