Los Angeles Dodgers: (95-67, 1st place in NL West in 2009)
For the second consecutive year, the Phillies ended the Dodgers’ season by winning the National League pennant. The series was highlighted by Jimmy Rollins’ walk-off against Jonathan Broxton, one of the league’s premier closers. The Dodgers may not have advanced to the World Series, but they had strong combination of offense and pitching to build a very good team.
Manny Ramirez received a 50-game suspension, leading many to think that the Dodgers’ season would be in jeopardy. However, players like Matt Kemp and Andre Eithier stepped up and led the Dodgers to the postseason.
Chad Billinsgley was not the ace he was in previous years, but the Dodgers still had one of the league’s top pitching staffs. At just 21 years of age, Clayton Kershaw proved that he can be a dominant Major League pitcher. In addition, the Dodgers had one of the best bullpens in all of baseball.
During the off-season, the Dodgers did not make any significant moves to improve their team. After a 95-win season, did they really need to?
The Dodgers’ lineup will look exactly the same. Ramirez, Kemp, and Eithier make up a star-studded outfield, and will provide much of the offense. The Dodgers are hoping catcher Russell Martin can rebound from 2009, when he batted .250 with a .680 on-base plus slugging percentage.
At this time, the fifth spot in the rotation is undecided. Kershaw and Billingsley will be the Dodger’s one-two punch. If Hiroki Kuroda remains healthy for the 2010 campaign, the Dodgers could have one of the strongest rotations in baseball.
George Sherill, a former closer, will be the set-up man for Broxton. While Sherill and Broxton are the biggest names in the ‘pen, relievers like Ramon Troncoso, Ronal Belisario, and James McDonald are ones to keep an eye on.
The Dodgers have the talent to reach the postseason once again, but can they avoid the heartbreak ending?