2024 Season Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

Ahead of the official start of the 2024 season tomorrow with the Seoul Series games between the Dodgers and Padres, Dodging Sleep podcast co-host Ian Blease previews how the Dodgers will do in 2024.

What happened in 2023?

100-62 – 1st place in National League (NL) West

The 2023 edition of the Los Angeles Dodgers exceeded most people’s expectations to not only win the NL West, but to do so by 16 games. Ultimately, and many would say inevitably, the Dodgers fell short in the play-offs as they were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Divisional Series (NLDS).

Following a much-celebrated spending spree over the offseason and stretching back to the previous trade deadline, it was thought by many that the San Diego Padres were the strong favourites to take the division crown and perhaps their experiences should serve a warning to Dodgers fans expecting them to stroll into another postseason and put up a strong challenge for the World Series. Spending big doesn’t guarantee success, but the Dodgers didn’t just spend big, they invested over a billion dollars in on-field talent and took the baseball world by storm.

Notable coming and goings

In: Shohei Ohtani, Tyler Glasnow, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Teoscar Hernandez, Michael Peterson

Julio Urias, J.D. Martinez, Lance Lynn, Caleb Ferguson, Victor Gonzales, David Peralta

In signing Ohtani, the Dodgers lay claim to arguably the best player to ever play the game. He is coming off his second Tommy John surgery in the last six years but his ability at the plate that seems to be unaffected by this gave the Dodgers the confidence to bet $700 million on him over the next ten years, although most of that money isn’t due until after this contract is completed.

The unprecedented deferrals offered up by Ohtani have enabled the Dodgers to further demonstrate their commitment to winning by handing out big contracts to Yamamoto and Glasnow, as well as my dark horse for the season, Teoscar Hernandez. I’ve always loved watching Hernandez – he’s been a mainstay in my fantasy teams for the past few seasons and I am incredibly excited about watching him in Dodger blue this year. I’m going go out on a limb and say that I believe he will hit more home runs than Mookie Betts this season.

Areas of weakness

The Dodgers made known their intention to make Gavin Lux their everyday shortstop prior to last season, only for a season-ending UCL injury to sideline him for the whole year. He was given the task again this year, but after a series of throwing errors, Dave Roberts was forced into making a change – naming Mookie Betts as the “everyday shortstop, for now”.

If the Dodgers are entering the 2024 season with any concerns, it will be at shortstop. Mookie Betts has demonstrated his defensive ability by winning six Gold Gloves in right field since he debuted in 2014, and he looked set to continue his defensive masterclass following his move to second base this season. However, a last-minute move to shortstop probably wasn’t in the plan, and though he has welcomed the move it remains to be seen if it is one that will stick. Up until now, the Dodgers have been able to construct their impressive roster without giving up too many of their top prospects – but will they be forced into a trade to solve a shortstop shortage? Only time will tell.

The Dodgers worked miracles last year to record 100 wins with a team which, in starting pitching especially lacked the cutting edge of some of their rivals, and most certainly of Dodgers teams from previous years. So, although they are undoubtedly better on paper, that paper seems to only apply to the regular season these days – once we get into the playoffs it is often not the team with the best record that takes home the coveted “piece of metal”. We need look back no further than last season when the World Series was contested between two wild card winners, the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks for evidence of this.

One(s) to watch

Glasnow has been locked in this spring, posting a 0.90 ERA with 14 Ks in 10 innings. For the next few years at least, there will be question marks over his durability over the course of a full MLB season, though he did post a career highs in both innings pitched (120) and strikeouts (162) with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, and he’s coming into a season healthy for the first time since 2021. These positives combined the depth of pitching available to the Dodgers are strong signs that our opening day starter can achieve great things this year.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Image credit: Getty Images)

In contrast, Yamamoto seemed to struggle at times in the Cactus League. He impressed in his first outing before blowing hot and cold and finishing with an 8.38 ERA over three games, though he did also collect 14 strikeouts so the positives were also on display for all to see. Yamamoto will be handed the ball for Game Two of the Seoul Series where he, like Glasnow, will face a formidable Padres line-up likely to include Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts. So, will he be up to the test? It’s impossible to say for certain, but the young Samurai Japan star has risen to every challenge so far in his career, so who are we say that he won’t?

2024 prediction

I believe the Dodgers will have a regular season for the ages in 2024, winning close to 115 games. Roberts has proven himself as one of the best regular season managers of all-time through his career so far. His 753-443 win-loss record leaves a .630 win percentage – only two managers in history, Vic Harris (.663) and Rube Foster (.633)  have a better record – and I predict he will further enhance his regular season credentials this year.

The season ahead promises to be one of the most-watched in Dodgers history, as a whole generation of newly enthused Japanese fans look on as two of their home-grown superstars challenge for honours at the pinnacle of the sport. The game is attracting interest elsewhere too as the previously barren baseball section on BBC Sport have begun to share stories at an increased rate to previous years, and most of them relate to players from the Dodgers. Expectation is high across the globe. 

There should, of course, be some caution applied to the expectation placed on this team of superstars though. Firstly, the Dodgers have been favourites and not won before. It’s actually become a bit of a habit in recent years – and this year, you could meet plenty of Atlanta Braves fans that would dispute their status as favourites to begin with. The Braves look set to offer the main challenge to the Dodgers in their quest for World Series glory and led by reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. and a strong supporting cast, they will be doing everything in their power to stop the Dodgers juggernaut, but the Dodgers haven’t spent all this money to crash out in the NLCS again.

The global game would benefit enormously from two big market teams in the October Classic, so the Dodgers facing the New York Yankees would be a real spectacle, but it is fair to say that despite the trading for Juan Soto, the Yankees might not be quite ready yet. This view was further enhanced with the recent news that pitching ace Gerrit Cole will miss the start of the season.

However, as I am an eternal optimist and want the best things for the great game of baseball, I will choose to believe that the Yankees can get the job done and make it all the way to the World Series, where they will be dispatched by the Dodgers in six, in a series that will be remembered all over the world as one of the best ever…

A boy can dream, right?

Ian Blease is the co-host of the Dodging Sleep podcast and general manager of Liverpool Trojans Baseball Club. He can be found on Twitter @Bleasedog.

Featured image – AP Photo/Ashley Landis

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