Dodgers stacked ros­ter led by Mookie Betts

Betts leads stacked ros­ter for Dodgers

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By BETH HAR­RIS

LOS AN­GE­LES — The Los An­ge­les Dodgers have been noth­ing if not con­sis­tent in re­cent years. Seven straight sea­sons of 90-plus wins to go with seven NL West ti­tles in a row. All that’s miss­ing is an elu­sive World Se­ries cham­pi­onship.

They open the short­ened 60-game sea­son with a cou­ple of B’s in the lineup: Cody Bellinger and new ad­di­tion Mookie Betts. Bellinger won NL MVP last year and Betts was the 2018 AL MVP with Boston. They are among the most tal­ented com­bos in base­ball and both could con­tend for MVP hon­ors. Betts has ex­tra in­cen­tive, too, since he can be­come a free agent af­ter the sea­son.

One of the Dodgers’ great­est strengths is their depth. Be­yond Bellinger and Betts, their of­fense boasts Max Muncy, Justin Turner and Corey Sea­ger and the bench fea­tures util­ity play­ers Chris Tay­lor and En­rique Hernán­dez.

NEW LOOK

Betts will slot well into the pow­er­ful lineup. He hit .295 last sea­son with the Red Sox. The Dodgers’ of­fense led the Na­tional League with 886 runs scored, a .472 slug­ging per­cent­age and 279 home runs. With pitcher David Price sit­ting out and left-han­ders Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu de­parted, there’s room in the ro­ta­tion for an­other south­paw to join veteran Clay­ton Ker­shaw. LHP Alex Wood re­turns on a $4 mil­lion, one-year deal af­ter be­ing a Dodgers starter and an All-Star in 2017. RHP Blake Treinen was signed to a $10 mil­lion, one-year deal in an ef­fort to bol­ster the bullpen. The hope is he avoids the in­juries that derailed his 2019 sea­son and re­gains his 2018 form when he had an 0.78 ERA and earned All-Star hon­ors with Oak­land.

EYES ON THE ‘PEN

Closer Ken­ley Jansen is com­ing off an in­con­sis­tent 2019, when home runs and walks were big prob­lems for him. He re­ported to sum­mer camp late af­ter say­ing he tested pos­i­tive for COVID-19. Jansen said he ex­pects to be ready for the sea­son opener. The bullpen posted a 3.85 ERA that was low­est among NL re­liev­ers last year, but it was sec­ond in the league with 29 blown saves. Two

of the Dodgers’ three losses to Washington in the NL Divi­sion Se­ries were tagged to the re­lief corps.

AT DH, TAKE YOUR PICK

The des­ig­nated hit­ter is com­ing to the Na­tional League for the 60-game sea­son as a way to avoid over­tax­ing pitch­ers who would oth­er­wise have to hit. The Dodgers’ depth al­lows them the lux­ury of us­ing a by-com­mit­tee ap­proach. In re­cent years, the team has had more tal­ented play­ers than avail­able play­ing time, so adding an ex­tra bat only makes it eas­ier. Hernán­dez, A.J. Pol­lock or Tay­lor could be used against left-handed pitch­ers, while Joc Ped­er­son could DH against right-han­ders. Man­ager Dave Roberts also could use the spot to give cov­eted at-bats to young­sters Matt Beaty, Ed­win Rios or Will Smith when he needs a break from catch­ing.

PRICE-LESS THIS YEAR

The Dodgers won’t have Price in the ro­ta­tion af­ter he de­cided not to play this sea­son be­cause of the Coro­n­avirus. The five-time All-Star made two starts in spring train­ing, strik­ing out 10 in 4.1 in­nings be­fore all camps were closed in mid-March. Price has a $217 mil­lion, seven-year con­tract that runs through 2021. He was go­ing to make $32 mil­lion this sea­son. He was 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA for Boston last year and helped the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the 2018 World Se­ries. But Price is stay­ing close with his team­mates, watch­ing scrim­mages dur­ing sum­mer camp and tex­ting his ob­ser­va­tions to them.

ROOK­IES TO WATCH

2B Gavin Lux missed the first week of sum­mer camp for undis­closed rea­sons. He’s ex­pected to be a starter af­ter get­ting called up last Septem­ber and be­com­ing the youngest player to slug a post­sea­son home run at age 21. He hit .240 in Septem­ber and .222 in the play­offs. RHP Dustin May showed fast­ball ve­loc­ity and strong com­mand in his MLB debut last year, and could be in the mix to fill Price’s spot in the ro­ta­tion.

ON DECK

The Dodgers open the sea­son at home on July 23 with a four-game se­ries against the ri­val San Fran­cisco Giants. They visit the Hous­ton Astros on July 28-29 and the Astros come to Los An­ge­les on Sept. 12-13. Those two se­ries were highly an­tic­i­pated by fans be­fore MLB an­nounced no spec­ta­tors will be al­lowed in sta­di­ums. Hous­ton beat the Dodgers in the 2017 World Se­ries and the Astros were later found to have used tech­nol­ogy to cheat. The pan­demic forced the can­cel­la­tion of the All­Star Game at Dodger Sta­dium, so the team will play host in 2022 in­stead.

As­so­ci­ated Press

BET­TING ON BETTS In this July 6 photo, the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts hits dur­ing in­trasquad play in the restart of base­ball’s spring train­ing in Los An­ge­les. The Dodgers open the sea­son at home on July 23 with a four-game se­ries against the ri­val San Fran­cisco Giants.

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