San Diego Padres: 2017 NL West Scouting: The Los Angeles Dodgers

The defending champions of the NL West are the Los Angeles Dodgers. For the San Diego Padres, knowing the ins and outs of the roster entering spring training is an important step to dethroning them.

It would undoubtedly be a tough task for the San Diego Padres to go from worst to first in 2017 and take the National League West division crown. Of course, this is due in part to the fact that in order to accomplish this, they would need to oust a very talented Los Angeles Dodgers team.

The Dodgers are coming off of a 91-71 regular season and an NLCS appearance. Moving forward to 2017, the club has their sights set on nothing short of a World Series.

The roster certainly looks very similar to the way it did a year ago, making this objective well within reach. If nothing else at least, this club will be a force to be reckoned with in the NL West. Today we continue our analysis of Padres’ divisional opponents by taking a deeper look at the Dodgers.

Starting Pitching

The balance of promising young arms and seasoned hurlers is what makes the Dodgers’ rotation most dangerous. Of course, ace Clayton Kershaw needs no further explanation. Behind him looks to be Rich Hill, a 36-year-old 12 game winner in 2016.

The third through fifth starting roles have not been established, but the three which figure to take the spots in some order are Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, and Scott Kazmir. Urias is just 20, and is one of them more exciting young pitchers in all of baseball. Maeda is 28, but still has a bright future ahead in this rotation.

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With a front end of the rotation like Kershaw and Hill, the Dodgers have complete confidence that they will get solid starts at least two out of every five games. And with so much potential in Maeda and Urias, as well as a stable fifth starter in Kazmir, the NL West will need to watch out for this strong rotation in 2017.

Lineup

The combination of power, speed, youth and experience make Dodgers’ lineup intimidating to say the least. Anchored by five tool superstar Yasiel Puig, the powerful lineup scored 725 runs in 2016, an average of nearly 4.5 runs a game.

These numbers should only improve in 2017, as the young lineup gets more experienced, and the veterans are still all in place.

Centerfielder Joc Pederson should have another fantastic offensive season following two consecutive 25 home run campaigns. Adrian Gonzalez is also still in the lineup, and his veteran presence can only do the rest of the young lineup good. Justin Turner, Corey Seager, and Logan Forsythe should provide protection for the power hitters near the bottom of the lineup. Since these hitters are nearly equally capable, the pressure this lineup puts on opposing pitching staffs is almost unparalleled.

Balance and consistency accurately describe this Los Angeles lineup. A team which is solid in the field and constantly attacking at the plate, the Dodgers are going to be a tough team to keep up with this season, especially for opposing pitchers.

Bullpen

Much like the Giants, the Dodgers have a strong closer. In contrast to their most formidable NL West foe however, the Dodgers have one of the better bullpens from top to bottom in all of baseball.

This is evident based on their top ranked 3.35 bullpen ERA in 2016. In 590 and 2/3 innings, the unit struck out 630 and held opposing hitters to a .221 batting average. They also recorded 32 of the team’s 91 regular season wins.

Closer Kenley Jansen is the leader of the group, but the impressive supporting cast consists of many of 2016’s contributors including Yimi Garcia, Ross Stripling, Josh Fields, and the distracting Adam Liberatore. With several options for every scenario, this deep unit will not provide hitters with any sort of opening even if they do chase the starters from the game. The Padres certainly need to make avoiding falling behind against the Dodgers a top priority.

Unsurprisingly, the Dodgers look to be a very dangerous team entering 2017. The Padres certainly have an uphill battle if they wish to dethrone 2016’s division champions. All around, the Dodgers are consistent to what they were last season, a team falling just two wins shy of a pennant.

Stay tuned the rest of the week as Friars on Base takes a look at the Padres’ four divisional opponents entering spring training!

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