Ah… spring training. A chance to get a taste of the new season!
Teams are testing out their lineups, pitchers are tinkering with new pitches, and it’s a chance to see some new faces from the minor leagues, fighting for a chance for a midseason call-up, or even a spot in the Opening Day roster.
So how are the Dodgers doing so far in the cactus league?
|22 Feb 2020||San Francisco Giants||W 10-4|
|23 Feb 2020||Chicago Cubs||W 4-2|
|24 Feb 2020||Chicago White Sox||T 2-2|
|25 Feb 2020||Arizona Diamondbacks||L 7-3|
|26 Feb 2020||L.A. Angels||W 9-4|
|27 Feb 2020||Cleveland Indians||W 6-5|
|28 Feb 2020||Milwaukee Brewers||L 6-5|
|29 Feb 2020||Arizona Diamondbacks||W 7-4|
|29 Feb 2020||Colorado Rockies||W 14-2|
|1 Mar 2020||Texas Rangers||L 8-6|
As of 2 March: a not too shabby: 6-1-3.
But, it’s best not to get too focused on the scores in spring training since team lineups are generally being experimented with on both sides … but it’s always good to get some wins and see where the team stands.
So let’s pick up the main themes that have been shown so far:
Second Cody impresses
One of the minor league players that’s really burst out the gate so far has been Cody Thomas. In seven games he’s hit four home runs with an OPS of 1.516, as well as an impressive home run robbery in the game vs the White Sox.
Give and take. pic.twitter.com/1DPUZMexJR
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) February 24, 2020
With an impressive minor league record with the Dodger Triple-A Drillers in 2019 (.236/.308/.443/.751 – 23 home runs and 76 RBI), he’s definitely a player that might get the call up later on in the year.
Veterans’ offseason work pays off
Between Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw, there are over two decades of major league experience in the Dodgers organisation. However, no-one can stay dominant forever, and their 2019 seasons stats, while still nothing to sniff at, were their worst so far.
However, during the offseason, both made a visit to the famous Driveline Baseball pitcher development team, and their work appears to have paid dividends:
Kenley Jansen strikes out the side, velocity 92-94 mph.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 26, 2020
Clayton Kershaw removed after 1 2/3 innings — 26 pitches in the second inning with two walks. 37 pitches total. Fastball 91-93 mph.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 28, 2020
If both can keep up this performance during the regular season, that gives a massive boost to the already stellar Dodgers pitching talent.
Still uncertain bullpen
With the starting and closing spots pretty set, eyes turn to the bullpen, where things are a little more up in the air. Bullpen woes have been a problem for the Dodgers in previous seasons, and there are still a lot of open questions for 2020: Will newbies Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin make opening day? Will new Oakland’s trade Blake Treinen get back to his previous form? How will Adam Kolarek manage with the new three-batter-minimum and move away from his former LOOGY role?Embed from Getty Images
Only time will tell, but don’t be surprised if the bullpen is still the biggest worry for most Dodgers fans.
No Mookie Whammies yet…
Yes, I know he’s only been in a few games so far but c’mon Mookie Betts, let’s get some dingers out there! We want those first of many, home runs in Dodger blues in the books!
Alex Wood struggles
While it’s good to have Alex Wood back on the team, he struggled in his first outing in Dodger blue since 2018. Against the Brewers, he allowed three earned runs and three hits in 1⅓ innings pitched. Again, this is spring training, so you don’t want to put too much stock into a small sample size, but it could be a little worrying, especially if possibly injury-related: Wood was out most of his 2019 season with the Cincinnati Reds with back issues.
Hopefully, he can recover and get back onto his dominant 2017-2018 form.
Overall, it’s early days, but the cactus league games so far have shown that the Dodgers are still a strong team, ready to go into the 2020 season. There’s still areas of concern, such as the bullpen, but with 162 games to play, there’s plenty of time for some tweaks.
Peter Souter is covering the LA Dodgers during 2020 as part of the growing team of writers at Bat Flips and Nerds. He also nerds out to baseball anime Follow him on Twitter @petersouter