Dodgers
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Day Roster Preview

The Los Angeles Dodgers are gearing up for what’s arguably their greatest team they’ve ever fielded. Old names are on the return as well as new flashy studs, combining into a solid mix capable of taking home another World Series championship. They are projected to win well over 100 games with seemingly no weaknesses in their depth.

Two former MVPs dominate the offense. Superstar right fielder Mookie Betts took home his in 2018. In 2020, he finished runner-up with a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Cody Bellinger won his MVP in 2019. Together they comprise perhaps the best outfield in all of baseball. Either of these guys could win it again easily, but don’t forget about Corey Seager. The stud shortstop had an impactful year especially in the postseason, winning both the NLCS and World Series MVP. There aren’t too many changes to their offense with the exception of losing Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez, but in place of them comes Zach McKinstry and Matt Beaty.

Not only this, but they were able to upgrade their pitching staff adding 2020 Cy Young Award Winner Trevor Bauer. Their Rotation will feature three past Cy Young Winners including Clayton Kershaw, and David Price. Their bullpen is young but exciting with Victor Gonzalez and Brusdar Graterol. With the excitement of Opening Day, let’s look at their roster. (all stats provided by baseball-reference)

Starting Lineup

RF Mookie Betts (2020: .292/.366/.562, 16 HR, 39 RBI)

Betts called his 2020 season “serviceable” which is underestimating how big of an impact he actually was. He was the missing piece to the Dodgers’ already lethal offense and he’s hungry for more.

SS Corey Seager (2020: .307/.358/.585, 15 HR, 41 RBI)

Corey Seager may very well be the best all-around offensive shortstop in all of baseball. After coming off Tommy John Surgery in 2018, he’s been nothing but brilliant at the plate.

3B Justin Turner (2020: .307/.400/.460, 4 HR, 23 RBI)

When healthy, Turner is one of the best hitters in the league. Unfortunately, it always seems like he’s battling some sort of injury. He came into Spring Training fit and trim and looks to make an impact.

CF Cody Bellinger (2020: .239/.333/.455, 12 HR, 30 RBI)

Last season was Bellinger’s worst in his professional career. He looks to come back in a big way and regains his 47 homer 2019 MVP campaign.

1B Max Muncy (2020: .192/.331/.389, 12 HR, 27 RBI)

Like Bellinger, Muncy had a dismal 2020 season. Don’t let the stats completely fool you. He was playing through a hand minor injury throughout. Now that he’s healthy, look to see him get back on his normal 35 home run pace.

C Will Smith (2020: .289/.401/.579, 8 HR, 25 RBI)

Smith burst onto the scene as an offensive force. His only downside is his defense, but his bat makes up for it. It will be interesting to see how far his offense goes for the duration of a full season. After all, he’s only played 91 career games.

LF AJ Pollock (2020: .276/.314/.566, 16 HR, 34 RBI)

Pollock surprised many with his 2020 campaign. He was on a 43 home run pace in 2020. When healthy, he is a major factor in the Dodgers offense.

2B Chris Taylor (2020: .270/.366/.476, 8 HR, 32 RBI)

Only on the Dodgers would you have Chris Taylor batting eighth in the lineup. He is criminally underrated and can play practically any position. The second base position looks to be his unless he slumps early and will have to compete with Gavin Lux.

Bench

2B Gavin Lux (2020: .175/.246/.349, 3 HR, 8 RBI)

The Dodgers have high hopes for Lux, but he’s going to have to work for a starting spot on this team. A strong Spring Training will give him more opportunity to handle it perhaps platooning a lot with Chris Taylor.

3B Edwin Rios (2020: .250/.301/.645, 8 HR, 17 RBI)

Rios would be a starter on any other team other than the Dodgers. The power he possesses is unreal. If Turner goes down with an injury, Rios may get the opportunity to it 30 home runs.

UT Zach McKinstry (2020: .286/.286/.429, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

McKinstry played for a second last season, but will definitely see more playing time this year. He will replace Kiké Hernandez’s role as the Utility Man. The left-handed batter also has some pop in his bat.

C Austin Barnes (2020: .244/.353/.314, 1 HR, 9 RBI)

The weak-hitting catcher will serve as the primary backup to Will Smith. He will be the personal catcher to Kershaw and highlights in defense. He can also fill in at second base if need be.

1B Matt Beaty (2020: .220/.278/.340, 2 HR, 5 RBI)

Beaty not only plays 1B but can also play some outfield positions. He didn’t play much in 2020, but he can make an impact in clutch situations.

Starting Rotation

LHP Clayton Kershaw (2020: 6-2, 2.16 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 0.840 WHIP, 9.6 K/9)

Kershaw had a bounceback year in the shortened 2020 campaign. The window of time allowed him not to be hindered by injury. He may go down again from past history, but he’ll still be one of the top pitchers in all of baseball.

RHP Walker Buehler (2020: 1-0, 3.44 ERA, 4.36 FIP, 0.955 WHIP, 10.3 K/9)

Buehler dealt with injury last year but is the Dodgers ace of the future. The slender right-hander is dominant at times but can sometimes tinker with control. 2021 may be the year where he settles down and makes a push for the Cy Young award.

RHP Trevor Bauer (2020: 5-4, 1.73 ERA, 2.88 FIP, 0.795 WHIP, 12.3 K/9)

Bauer is the latest big addition to the team. I don’t think he’ll put up the numbers he did over the course of a full year, but it’ll be interesting to see how he does as a Dodger.

LHP David Price (2020: Did not play)

The veteran will bring his wisdom to this young Dodger team. Expect him to continue to be a solid starter posting an ERA around 3.50 with 12 wins.

RHP Dustin May (2020: 3-1, 2.57 ERA, 4.62 FIP, 1.089 WHIP, 7.1 K/9)

The Dodgers seem to have endless starting pitching depth. Dustin May has high heat and could easily be an ace for any other team. The starting rotation is flat-out crazy.

Bullpen

CL RHP Kenley Jansen (2020: 3.33 ERA, 11 SV, 3.03 FIP, 1.151 WHIP)

Jansen has been aging and seemingly losing velocity on his fastball. But the faith in him to do well is still present, and Dave Roberts has him as the Dodger’s primary closer.

LHP Julio Urias (2020: 3-0, 3.27 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 1.145 WHIP, 7.4 K/9)

The young pitcher will also be a force in terms of long relief as he was in the 2020 postseason. Another man who could pitch in any position for the team.

RHP Tony Gonsolin (2020: 2-2, 2.31 ERA, 2.29 FIP, 0.836 WHIP, 8.9 K/9)

A great pitcher in his own right, Dave Roberts could practically place him in any pitching position. He will probably come out of the bullpen but also make a good amount of starts too.

RHP Blake Treinen (2020: 3-3, 3.86 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 1.208 WHIP, 7.7 K/9)

Treinen did his job last year, and the Dodgers have faith that he will be the setup man and the bridge to Kenley Jansen this season.

LHP Victor Gonzalez (2020: 3-0, 1.33 ERA, 1.67 FIP, 0.738 WHIP, 10.2 K/9)

The young pitcher was perhaps the most dominant bullpen piece of the 2020 season for the Dodgers. He will also be used exclusively as a setup man in late innings to get to Jansen. He could also fill in for Jansen if he begins to trouble.

RHP Brusdar Graterol (2020: 1-2, 3.09 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 0.900 WHIP, 5 K/9)

The young flamethrower has an opportunity to be a key piece to the Dodgers bullpen. He could potentially be the Dodgers closer of the future.

RHP Corey Knebel (2020: 0-0, 6.80 ERA, 6.64 FIP, 1.725 WHIP, 10.1 K/9)

A new piece to the bullpen signed in the offseason, the former all-star could be important in high-stress innings come September and October.

LHP Scott Alexander (2020: 2-0, 2.92 ERA, 6.03 FIP, 1.459 WHIP, 6.6 K/9)

The Dodgers lefty specialist will be brought into induce groundballs and continue his resilience as a mainstay of the Dodgers pen.

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