This weekend the Arizona Diamondbacks will take on the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. For our series preview click here.
Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Stacie Wheeler, editor over at FanSided’s Dodgers site Lasorda’s Lair.
I asked here many questions about the Dodgers to learn more about the team the Diamondbacks will face. This is a new look Dodger ball club, so get to know them with a person that knows them well!
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1. What do you expect from the back of the rotation this season?
The back of the rotation is certainly an area of concern with Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson’s injury histories along with Hyun-jin Ryu’s early season injury. I expect the Dodgers to dip into their pitching depth throughout the season, and the new front office did a great job of picking up some key pitchers like Joe Weiland, Scott Baker, Mike Bolsinger, and there’s the incumbent Carlos Frias. If Brandon McCarthy can remain healthy and pitch as well as we saw from him in his Dodger debut on Wednesday night, then my worries about the backend of the rotation may ease.
2. What do you expect from Joel Peralta in the closers role while Kenley Jansen is on the D.L?
Don Mattingly will be mixing and matching in the late innings until Kenley Jansen and Brandon League are back on the mound. Chris Hatcher, Paco Rodriguez, Pedro Baez, Joel Peralta and new acquisition Ryan Webb may all get a shot to close.
3. How much better can Clayton Kershaw be?
Clayton Kershaw can still get better, and I expect his reign of dominance to continue this season. Kersh said that he tries to keep it simple, and he tries to focus on each win. His slider is improving, and he uses it more along with his beautiful curveball in his pitching repertoire.
Kershaw can of course improve by defeating those pesky Cardinals in the postseason. He’s won three Cy Young Awards (I expect more of those in the future for him), a Gold Glove, a M.V.P. Award and division titles, but the final frontier for Kershaw is the postseason. He’s still only 27-years old. There’s plenty of time for Kershaw to pitch in the Fall Classic and prove the naysayers wrong.
4. What role do you see Andre Either having?
Andre Ethier, if not traded, will be on the bench for the Dodgers. He’s still versatile defensively, and he can play all three outfield positions. With Joc Pederson in center field, Ethier will have to accept a bench role for now. That’s until Carl Crawford inevitably lands on the D.L., then Ethier will be starting.
5. Do you think Joc Pederson will win Rookie of the Year?
I wrote about Joc’s chance to win Rookie of the Year, and I do think he has the sheer talent to do so. Joc will need to stay consistent at the plate and work on keeping the strikeouts at bay. Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler may give Joc a run for his money, but if Joc’s impressive Spring gave any indication of how he will play in his rookie year, then there’s a lot to be excited for in the highly touted prospect.
6. What should the expectations be for Yasiel Puig?
Yasiel Puig needs to have a big year for the Dodgers after they lost both Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp this offseason. Puig looked sharp in the outfield this Spring, and with a couple of seasons under his belt he may now put all the drama aside and prove how talented he truly is with increased maturity. Puig has yet to find his swing during the Opening Series, but I expect Puig to have a big year offensively and defensively.
7. How much of an impact can Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins have?
Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins will have a huge impact on this Dodgers team. Not only will they shore up the middle infield where there was many miscues from the Hanley Ramirez/Dee Gordon pairing, but they also have already added consistently good at bats from their spots in the lineup.
Rollins made a huge first impression with his three-run home run against San Diego on Opening Day. Rollins is essentially holding the place for Corey Seager, but until Seager is ready, Rollins will not only give Mattingly quality at bats, and solid defense but also leadership in the clubhouse.
8. Give me a prediction for the Dodgers?
The Dodgers definitely have the talent and newly added depth to their roster to improve upon last season. I see them winning 92 games and winning their third consecutive N.L. West title. As far as the postseason, I’m optimistic yet realistic. They will need to stay healthy and get over that hump which they haven’t been able to do in the playoffs the last two seasons. I’m predicting a Dodgers-Nationals match up in October.