With the All Star break over, the Dodgers are now setting their sights on October. In order to get there, the Dodgers will have to keep defending their lead in the Division and they’ll have to add a few more pieces to their team. With that being said, what can we expect from the Dodgers coming out of the All Star Break?
The Los Angeles Dodgers currently hold a 13.5 Game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks for First Place in the National League West. In this division, there are three teams that are separated by a margin of 1 game: The Rockies, Padres and Diamondbacks. Now, anything can happen from now until the end of September but, I don’t see the Padres lasting too much longer. They have an extremely talented team of young stars but, they’re young. The San Diego Padres will show promise but in my opinion, they’ll fall out of the race. On the other hand, the Rockies and Dbacks are a seasoned team that will be in it until the end. Both teams will be vying for a Wild Card spot.
As always, when July rolls around, the trade rumors start flying and people start assuming they know everything. There’s always the question of what does my favorite team need to do in order to become a better playoff team? For a lot of teams, they become sellers. For teams like the Dodgers, Astros and Yankees, they will become aggressive buyers in July. What do the Dodgers need that they don’t already have? Well like every season for the past few years, the Dodgers bullpen is the main area that needs improvement. Or so we think.
Andrew Friedman’s bullpen of low level talent that somehow blossom into excellent relievers is an issue that is easily pointed out by the fans. Dodger fans get tired of the strange no name minor league players that always get signed by Friedman and it’s with good cause. Most of the time, the experiment doesn’t pan out. There have been a couple that have worked out and the most notable was Brandon Morrow in 2017. Besides Morrow, who else has really been a shining star in the flurry of bullpen acquisitions over the years? In the 2018 offseason, Dodger fans finally had one of our requests answered when the Dodgers signed reliever, Joe Kelly to a 3 year deal. However, Kelly got off to a bad start in 2019 and everyone instantly turned on the guy. Now, the Joe Kelly we see is much different than the one from the beginning of this season.
So if Joe Kelly can stick to it and not return to his early season troubles, what does that mean for the Dodgers? That would mean that the Dodgers would have a lockdown 8th inning pitcher in Joe Kelly and a lights out closer in Kenley Jansen. Where would the Dodgers go from there? The Dodgers would still pursue one of the key relievers on the trade market: Felipe Vasquez, Will Smith and maybe even Matt Boyd from the Detroit Tigers. Matt Boyd is a starter but the Dodgers could acquire him and use him as a reliever in the meantime. However, the asking prices for these players would be high.
All 3 of these pitchers that I listed are premium pitchers that have been getting lots of talk around the baseball world. Certainly, their teams know exactly how much they could demand. For Vasquez, it was reported that the Pirates would want at least 2 of the Dodgers Top Prospects. This list included: Will Smith, Dustin May, Keibert Ruiz and Gavin Lux. The reported asking price is high but rarely do teams end up with that type of haul for just one player. Even last season when the Dodgers traded for Manny Machado, the Dodgers traded 5 Minor League players but only 1 was a Top ranked prospect. And that was for Manny Machado! Regardless of the outcome, the Dodgers will still be in a position for a deep playoff run.
Where does this leave us now? The Los Angeles Dodgers will start their second half of the season by playing an Interleague series between the Boston Red Sox. This series will be a rematch of the 2018 World Series and the anticipation is growing. Everyone wants to see how both teams will fare against each other now that they have made additions and subtractions. Los Angeles has certainly had a better season than the defending World Series Champions but anything can happen in baseball.
July is always a fun time in baseball because of the Trade Deadline. Trades happen that no one thought was going to happen and there is always a major blockbuster deal that goes down. Last year, Manny Machado to the Dodgers. 2017, Yu Darvish to the Dodgers and Justin Verlander to the Astros. It is inevitable. Happy Second Half everyone, baseball is back!