Who are the Dodgers?
I think that if you wish for a nice opening series of the baseball season, Diamondbacks Anno 2023, there are opponents you’d rather have than the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Yes, I think they are worse than last season and I give the Padres this season the edge over the Dodgers, but it is still a monster team and a tough opponent for this up-and-coming Diamondbacks team.
The Dodgers have been dominating the NL West since 2013, except for a slight slip in 2021 when the over-performing Giants were able to sneak away the title from them. But that is 9 titles in 10 seasons. Their last losing season is a narrow 80-82 and dates from 2010. The last time they were atrocious was in 2005, with 71 wins.
So, yeah, Dodger evil laughs at us and feasts on our near dead pitching corpses. But that will soon change. The Diamondbacks are on the rise and the Dodgers won’t be able to tame the snakes much longer!
“With Bauer, we were clearly over,” Friedman said, adding that the team will not try to dump salary at some point this season to get back below the line. - Andrew Friedman on the 2023 luxury tax
The Dodgers tried to reset their luxury tax penalties by getting under the tax threshold for the 2023 season, but had to throw those plans into the trash bin after Trevor Bauer had to be reinstated with an additional $20-25MM to account for on the payroll.
That moves their total payroll to around $250MM and as a fourth time offender they will be hit hard by the luxury tax penalty. This year’s penalty was around $30MM, roughly a year of Shohei Ohtani’s future salary. Now you know why it was interesting for the Dodgers to move below that threshold this season.
Despite Friedman denying that getting below the threshold this off-season was a goal, the Dodgers did get rid of a lot of potential dollars to be paid and didn’t make any notable signings.
Let’s see who left.
- Justin Turner. There were apparently no intentions to retain the blue leprechaun in Los Angeles and so after 9 years the 3B turned away from Vin Scully Avenue. Justin signed with the Red Sox.
- Trea Turner. This turner also turned around but not without rejecting a qualifying offer. The compensatory pick is just a slight compensation for the loss of the 2022 silver slugger, all star and MVP candidate. He signed a big fat contract in Philadelphia.
- Tyler Anderson had a terrific season in Los Angeles and was a mainstay in the Dodgers’ rotation throughout 2022. Anderson has gone south to Anaheim.
- Chris Martin was mentioned on here as an interesting relief option. He also enjoyed a terrific second half in Los Angeles and was rewarded with a two-year contract in Boston.
- Scottsdale’s Cody Bellinger might not be missed after his struggles in the last couple of seasons. He got non-tendered but managed to get his arbitration money in a 1 year all-or-nothing contract with the Cubs.
- Andrew Heaney also had a good bounce-back season in Los Angeles where they reinvent pitching success like the way they fry churros in Spain and Mexico.
- Craig Kimbrel, Tommy Kahnle and Joey Gallo may not be directly associated with an impressive 2022 campaign in Dodger blue, but still had positive WAR contributions.
- David Price, in his final season, also showed up decently.
That’s a big chunk of a roster and, all in all, around 18 fWAR or 14 bWAR left Dodger stadium after the 2022 season.
And who did the Dodgers sign in return?
- Former Diamondback J.D. Martinez returns to the stadium where he turned into a Diamondback legend by hitting four homeruns in a game. However, he will suit up the wrong colour.
- The signing of former face-of-the-Diamondbacks-franchise David Peralta has also been commented more than once on this site and I get nausea every time I read his name.
- On the pitching staff the acquisition of Noah Syndergaard is probably the most interesting one. Makes sense Thor will return to his former self in Los Angeles.
- Alex Reyes, the former flamethrower of the Cardinals, will also try to find success again with help from the Dodgers’ pitching staff.
- Shelby Miller and Matt Andriese are other former Diamondbacks under contract in Los Angeles, although the latter on a minor league deal. Yonny Hernandez, who was with the D-Backs in 2022, was also acquired in the off-season in a low-key deal with the A’s.
- Not a free agent signing, but the Dodgers also, somewhat surprisingly, traded for Marlins’ Miguel Rojas.
- The Dodgers also traded for injured reliever J.P. Feyereisen, who had an interesting run with Tampa Bay before going down with a shoulder injury.
But that is just 6 bWAR the Dodgers (more or less) have added and none of these signings will make our legs start shivering when comparing them to the men who left.
Who will the Dodgers be missing?
I am not referring to either Chris Martin, Trea Turner, Justin Turner etc. but to the guys that are still with the Dodgers but not available for the matchups against the Diamondbacks:
- Out for the season: Walker Buehler and Gavin Lux. Buehler is still working on his rehab from TJ surgery while we all know that projected starting short stop Gavin Lux suffered a torn ACL in Spring Training and will limp around for the rest of the year.
- Not ready for a while: The mentioned J.P. Feyereisen and Blake Treinen have no clear timeline to return from their shoulder injuries. That is also true for off-season acquisition Alex Reyes although he should return before the All-Star break.
- Not ready for Opening Day: Former Diamondback Daniel Hudson and starter Tony Gonsolin don’t make the Opening Day roster, although they might soon return into action.
Their projected lineup for the upcoming matches:
- C: Will Smith
- 1B: Freddie Freeman
- 2B: Miguel Vargas
- SS: Miguel Rojas
- 3B: Max Muncy
- LF: David Peralta/Chris Taylor
- CF: Trayce Thompson/Chris Taylor
- RF: Mookie Betts
- DH: J.D. Martinez
- Bench: Jason Outman, Austin Barnes, Jason Heyward
Ever since the departure of Kenley Jansen and the “failure” of Craig Kimbrel the Dodgers don’t have a fixed closer. Any one of their top relievers Brusdar Graterol, Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia or Caleb Ferguson could be deployed in that role.
In general the hull still looks fine, and probably better than the Diamondbacks’ roster, but it looks like this Titanic has also lost some lifeboats during their latest (re)design phase.
Well begun is half done!
Despite the Dodgers losing some of their shine, facing them is still a messy job and not an easy task. In order to give some inspiration to our boys in Sedona red, I looked at similar people who were successful when facing such difficult times, and retrieved some of the lessons we can learn from a person who achieved great things: Mary Poppins. What does Mary Poppins tell us?
The Power of Being Firm but Loving
That’s right. Mary Poppins was firm, but loving, and so should the Diamondbacks’ leaders be as well. This is particular true for Torey Lovullo: our manager. Torey, be tough on your guys, tell them what they need to hear, but you have to love them too. Mike, the same goes for you. Be fair about the player’s performance, but give them the money, man.
Never judge things by their appearance
Oh, hell no! Never judge things by their appearance. The chimney dude wasn’t a depressed and negative person. Mary Poppins wasn’t that harsh either. Bumgarner might look like a dud nowadays, but he is still a powerful machine. Don’t judge too early! Only judge David Peralta for the traitor he is.
The Importance of Family time
That’s right. It’s not just about playing a game and then go back to your hotel room and play with the PlayStation or stream some stuff on Twitch. Don’t start dancing with just the Latino guys to some reggaeton or dembow. Do what you want to do, but spend some quality time together, all of the players. Dance together!
Laughter can cure almost anything
There is no such things as a nice laugh. Down 10-0? Hahaha! Another wild pitch? Hahaha! Shelby Miller just struck out the side for the 3rd inning in the row? Hahahahaha.....?
Sometimes You Need to Lighten Up and Have Some Fun
Yeah, don’t be too serious. Baseball is a game! Have fun and enjoy the game, the interaction with your teammates and the opportunity to teach those egg-sucking Dodgers a lesson.
It’s Important to Be Kind and Helpful
Yes, help each other. Be kind! Don’t start bitching at your team mates because the outfielder didn’t make the catch or the second baseman botched the ball. Tell him what he could do better next time, but always stay positive. Don’t say: “dickhead, better make that kids’ play next time so we don’t give up 2 runs or else I’ll snap your back” but try “that was a great effort and unfortunately you just missed it, leading to an unexpected result, but I am sure you will have it next time if you just keep on trying and do your best. Let me know if I can be of help too.”
Life Is Better When We Work Together
Life is so much better when we work together. Catcher and pitcher in sync, shortstop and the guys on the bases always alert, cooperation when baserunning with people on base, picking the other opponent off, running in the outfield without slamming into each other. Life is so much better that way!
It’s Important to Be Patient
Yes, very important to be patient, especially in baseball. Don’t swing too early! Wait for the right pitch and when that one starts sailing over the plate with little movement...
Always Be Prepared
...boom! You are prepared to hit that small opportunity and slam that straight into that section with those drunken Dodger fans that have no idea about what just happened or that they are even at a baseball game.
It’s Okay to Be a Little Bit Different
It’s okay! Try a shuffle when you pitch. Do a moonwalk when entering that batters’ box. Put that cap backwards. Make a huge batflip when smashing that ball out of the stadium. Stare at that Dodgers’ pitcher and tell him that his house is ours now. Don’t wear a necklace (or multiple)...I don’t know try something different because it is OK.
A Little Bit of Magic Can Make Any Day Better
Wow, yeah, a little bit of magic is certainly necessary when facing the Dodgers. Never hurts!
A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down
Since this will be the first baseball series of the season there isn’t much to look back to but Spring Training stats and I don’t wish to make those more important than they actually are, so I will just talk about some takeaways from the Dodgers’ Spring Training.
Before getting to the starters, let me say that the Dodgers’ relievers had a good Spring Training, with Evan Phillips and Brusdar Graterol being impeccable. Alex Vesia, on the other hand, was rather dreadful. Just like Shelby Miller, so that should be of some kind of comfort.
On the hitting side of things, J.D. Martinez, David Peralta, Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson have been hitting below .200 in Spring Training, with Thompson hitting a shocking 0.088 and striking out in a third of his at bats. Chris Taylor has also been terrible, striking out in almost half of his at bats. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Dodgers’ outfield would have the same troubles in this Opening series.
Game #1 Thu 03/30 7:10 MST, Zac Gallen (ARI) vs Julio Urías (LAD)
- Zac Gallen. Spring Training: 4 GS, 16.1 IP, 1 W-2 L, 8.27 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, 10-10 K/BB.
- Julio Urías. Spring Training: 3 GS, 11.2 IP, 1 W-1 L, 3.86 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6-3 K/BB.
Zac Gallen will be the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day starter for the first time in his career, as the previous 3 years it was Madison Bumgarner who took the mound for the Snakes. Gallen will try to repeat his success of 2022 when he ended fifth in the Cy Young voting, although his Spring Training performance doesn’t look impressive at all. But we’d rather stick to his baseball-reference projection of a 3.24 ERA and 1.08 WHIP and a nice 3.37 K/BB.
Julio Urías’ projection is a bit better than Gallen’s and his status as the Dodgers’ ace is cemented by naming him the Opening Day starter for the first time in his career as well. Urias had a fine Spring Training and was okay though unspectacular in this year’s WBC.
It depends a bit on whether Gallen’s Spring Training was really a fluke or if he still needs some time to adjust. If it is the first, the Diamondbacks stand no chance. If it is the latter it could go either way.
Urías pitched against the Diamondbacks twice last season, going 6 innings and allowing 2 runs combined. Both games were narrow, one ending in a loss and the other in a win.
Considering Mary Poppin’s learned lessons, I will go for the bit of magic and not judging Gallen’s Spring Training stats on their appearance: Diamondbacks win, just like last season against the Padres.
Game #2 Fri 03/31 7:10 MST, Merrill Kelly (ARI) vs David May (LAD)
- Merrill Kelly. Spring Training: 2 GS, 7.0 IP, 0 W-1 L, 3.86 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 7-4 K/BB.
- Dustin May. Spring Training: 4 GS, 18.1 IP, 2 W-2 L, 2.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 20-7 K/BB.
Merrill pitched two miserable games at the WBC and couldn’t really impress in Spring Training but will probably be solid no matter what. He faces a strong opponent in Dustin May who enjoyed a good Spring Training and nothing tells me that it won’t be more of the same in the second game against the Diamonbacks.
Dustin May has been hit hard by injuries the past two seasons, so I am sure his goal above all this season is to stay healthy, after pitching just 11 games and 53.0 innings since 2020. After a late return in 2022 he pitched one game against the Diamondbacks, in which he was knocked out after 4 innings and gave up 5 runs. A couple of days later he was placed on the IL again with a back injury.
I have a lot of faith in Kelly and less in May, he still needs to prove himself, so, again, I take my chances with the Diamondbacks. Well begun is half done!
Game #3 Sat 04/01 6:10 MST, Madison Bumgarner (ARI) vs Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
- Madison Bumgarner. Spring Training: 3 GS, 11.1 IP, 2 W-0 L, 3.18 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 6-6 K/BB.
- Clayton Kershaw. Spring Training: 4 GS, 18.1 IP, 2 W-1 L, 3.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 16-2 K/BB.
A duel of former superstars pitching in the autumn of their careers. Kershaw has always been outstanding against the Diamondbacks, but Bumgarner is probably worse than his Spring Training stats might indicate. I would love to be it the other way around, but I think Bumgarner faces a tough task to prove once again to the public that he is still a viable starter and belongs into the rotation because of his pitching skills and not because of the economical numbers. Kershaw will be Kershaw and pitch the Dodgers to victory. Unless you believe in a ton of magic.
Game #4 Sun 04/02 1:10 MST, Zach Davies (ARI) vs Noah Syndergaard (LAD)
- Zach Davies. Spring Training: 3 GS, 7.2 IP, 0 W-2 L, 12.91 ERA, 2.61 WHIP, 11-4 K/BB.
- Noah Syndergaard. Spring Training: 4 GS, 18.2 IP, 1 W-3 L, 5.79 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 13-2 K/BB.
If you think Davies is bad, don’t think Syndergaard is much better. Syndergaard has been quite hittable this Spring and the great K/BB rate might be due to guys swinging for the fences on his pitches (didn’t bother to find out, sorry). Still, Syndergaard makes a good chance of getting a win in a matchup with Davies whose return and presence on the Diamondbacks roster is still a big question mark to some.
Davies pitched 5 times against the Dodgers last season and was tagged with 2 losses and 14 runs in those outings. Syndergaard has seen a Diamondbacks’ lineup just 4 times in his career, the last time in 2018 so that was before he disappeared with injuries.
All in all, chances of winning the series are certainly there and anything less than a draw would be a disappointment, right?
Who are we kidding, of course the Diamondbacks...
This poll is closed
...sweep the Dodgers.
...win the series!
...get horrifically swept.