Dodgers, Angels Pack Offensive Punch, but Pitching is Questionable as 60-game Season Starts Tonightcsudhbulletin July 23, 2020 1 COMMENT
The only thing weirder than the 2020 MLB season is that legendary New York Yankee slugger Babe Ruth once wore a Dodger Uniform. He was a first base coach in 1938 in Brooklyn.
By Jeremy Gonzalez
There are a lot of questions surrounding Los Angeles’ two Major League teams that begin action tonight in the long-waited but greatly abbreviated 2020 season.
Will a 60-game instead of 162-season regular season heighten interest, or feel like a gimmick?
Will the addition of Mookie Betts finally put world championship rings on the Dodgers’ fingers?
Will new manager Joe Maddon infuse a new energy and enthusiasm in the Angels like he did with the Chicago Cubs?
What’s it going to feel like playing in empty stadiums or watching the games on TV?
And maybe the biggest question of all: if Los Angeles or Orange Counties go into mandatory lock-down again will both teams play in Rancho Cucamonga?
The only thing anyone knows for sure is that around 7:10 p.m tonight, the strangest opening day in the history of the sport will see the Dodgers host their arch-rival, the San Francisco Giants, while the Angels square off in the Bay Area against the Oakland Athletics tomorrow, July 24, at 7:10 p.m.
Los Angeles Angels – Will Rendon signing pay off?
The Los Angeles Angels have played October baseball once in the last decade and have experienced four losing seasons in the last five years. They hope to change that now, especially with newly appointed World Series-winning manager Joe Maddon at the helm.
Maddon brings a wealth of managing experience with him, managing the Tampa Bay Rays to a World Series appearance in 2008 and most notably, ending the Chicago Cubs’ 108-year championship drought by winning the 2016 World Series title.
Things look better for the Angels now that the best player on the planet, Mike Trout, committed to playing the 2020 season. Add Anthony Rendon, the team’s prized offseason signing, into the mix and the lineup looks threatening. The Angels will be a dark horse to watch out for in the American League playoff race.
The one thing that might affect their playoff push will be their depth at pitching in a condensed season. The shorter season might mean the bullpen gets called on more to give starters as much rest as possible, but the Angels’ bullpen seems shaky at best (Fangraphs’ projection model ranks them as 21st in the majors). Another factor to consider is that any injury to Trout, Rendon, or Shohei Ohtani could turn them into a mediocre team. Since there are only 60 games in the season, even a minor injury that sidelines a player for 10 games could drastically affect a playoff push.
But when healthy, they form one of the most formidable trios in all of baseball. A three-headed monster that can change games quickly in their favor, especially if batting second, third and cleanup in the lineup. The surrounding cast of players will be looking to support the three superstars.
Second baseman Tommy La Stella had a breakout campaign in 2019 and could repeat. Justin Upton was inconsistent in 2019, but if he can slug like he did in 2018, he could be marked as an asset to the team. Albert Pujols isn’t the player he once was and might even get benched for a better hitter.
In the starting rotation, Ohtani remains the star. The delayed season actually helped the Angels starting rotation as they can now deploy Ohtani in the rotation right away rather than ease him into pitching action like they had planned had the season begun on time. Andrew Heaney is the team’s next best starting pitcher, who’s projected to have a 4.01 ERA. Dylan Bundy and Griffin Canning are two prospects who will be thrown into starting action, and the rest of the rotation seems like spare parts that got put together with the hopes that they yield good results.
Ty Buttrey is a hidden gem for the bullpen. The right-hander was part of the return haul the Angels received for sending Ian Kinsler to the Red Sox, and he continues to be an elite reliever. The rest of the bullpen seems questionable at best.
The Angels open up their season with a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics on the road starting on Friday July 24 at 7:10 p.m before coming home on Tuesday July 28 to host the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros for a three-game series with each team.
2019 record: 72-90 (4th in AL West)
3-year trend: 2017 (2nd), 2018 (4th), 2019 (4th)
Projected 2020 record: 33-27 (2nd in AL West)
Vegas World Series odds: +2500
Los Angeles Dodgers – World Series or bust
Adding Betts to an already scary lineup was huge, but there are some question marks on their pitching staff after 2019 ERA leader Hyun-Jin Ryu left in free agency, Kenta Maeda was traded and David Price, who came with Betts as part of the trade from Boston, opted to sit out the 2020 campaign.
Despite the holes to fill on their pitching staff, this is the Dodgers’ best chance at claiming its first World Series title since 1988 after coming extremely close in two of the last three Fall Classics.
Offensively, there was no better team in the National League last season, and that was before the team decided to add Betts. Top to bottom, the Dodgers have one of the most elite lineups in all of baseball. Leading off with Mookie and following him with Max Muncy, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger gives LA fearsome top four that could give any pitcher nightmares. Joc Pederson and Corey Seager are not to be overlooked either. Seager hit 44 doubles last season and Pederson should continue to find success against righties.
Losing Maeda, Ryu and Price would normally set the Dodgers back tremendously, but they still have one of the best pitching duos in the majors. Clayton Kershaw is still capable of shutting down even the best lineups and Walker Buehler will continue his meteoric rise on the mound, even if he might be on the back end of the rotation. Alex Wood was effective as a starter before being limited last year due to back issues. Ross Stripling will be playing with a chip on his shoulder after almost being traded and Julio Urias is still looking to live up to his potential after flashing moments of brilliance in the past.
On paper, the Dodgers’ bullpen looks good. But Kenley Jansen recorded the worst numbers of his career last season while recovering from heart surgery and Joe Kelly started off rocky before turning things around late in the season. If those two can pitch like the best versions of themselves and former All-Star closer Blake Treinen can do the same, the final innings could go by fairly quickly for opposing teams.
2019 record: 106-56 (1st in NL West)
3-year trend: 2017 (1st), 2018 (1st), 2019 (1st)
Projected 2020 record: 40-20 (1st in NL West)
Vegas World Series odds: +350