Publish date:

1 DODGERS

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP LOS ANGELES

Clayton Kershaw is the key. They need to get 200 innings from him. As long as he's Clayton Kershaw, they should be O.K.... Rich Hill is not a workhorse, but he looks healthy. He's really reinvented himself.... Walker Buehler could be like a trade-deadline acquisition when they bring him up, probably to add to the bullpen. He's got electric stuff, up to 100. He's got a plus curveball that's 20 miles an hour off his fastball.... Kenley Jansen is the best closer in the game, but you just worry about how much he's been used.... Will Chris Taylor hit 21 home runs again? I don't know, but he'll be disruptive on the bases.... There's a little concern with Corey Seager's elbow, but when he's on, he's an MVP candidate.... I expect another solid year from Justin Turner. He's the leader of the team.... Cody Bellinger got exposed a little in the World Series. His swing takes a big uppercut path, and Houston had a veteran staff that could exploit that.... Yasiel Puig has tools, but he's hard to trust. He can try to do too much at the plate.... You know who has had a great spring? Matt Kemp. If they want to platoon him with Joc Pederson, they could, and have Kiké Hernández as a late-inning defensive replacement.... Pederson has struggled in camp. He has a big swing, but he's got power and he's a solid defender.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

Let's keep it simple: The Dodgers have the best pitcher on the planet, one of the best pitchers ever, and he builds orphanages in his spare time. Clayton Kershaw, who in an off-year marred by back problems and a career-high home run rate, still led the NL in ERA (2.31) and finished second in Cy Young Award balloting. He's not just a stat generator, either; he is as watchable a pitcher as you'll find, with a high leg kick and a gorgeous 12-to-6 curve. His habit of berating himself for violations such as missing the corner by an inch or giving up a bloop single is charming too. Enjoy him now, Dodgers fans; Kershaw can opt out of his contract after the season and hit free agency, where he would almost surely become the game's first $40 million pitcher.

OVER / UNDER

96.5

It's a lot to ask a team to get over 96 wins—again. Rich Hill, Alex Wood and Chris Taylor had career years in 2017. L.A. is the West favorite but not quite a 97-win team.

THE LINEUP

FANTASY BREAKOUT

1. CENTERFIELD

Chris Taylor

.327 OBP/13 HR/16 SB

In '17, his first full season, he was one of only nine to hit at least 21 homers with 17 steals; he still has room to grow.

2. SHORTSTOP

Corey Seager

.487 SLG/24 HR/4 SB

3. THIRD BASE

Justin Turner

.372 OBP/22 HR/4 SB

4. FIRST BASE

Cody Bellinger

.515 SLG/36 HR/10 SB

5. LEFTFIELD

Matt Kemp

.270 BA/.470 SLG/17 HR

6. RIGHTFIELD

Yasiel Puig

.501 SLG/24 HR/11 SB

7. CATCHER

Yasmani Grandal

.329 OBP/.442 SLG/13 HR

8. SECOND BASE

Logan Forsythe

.242 BA/10 HR/3 SB

THE STAFF

1. LH STARTER

Clayton Kershaw

15 W/2.74 ERA/10.3 K9

2. LH STARTER

Alex Wood

9 W/3.50 ERA/1.23 WHP

3. RH STARTER

Kenta Maeda

8 W/4.14 ERA/1.22 WHP

4. LH STARTER

Rich Hill

10 W/3.63 ERA/1.20 WHP

CLOSER

Kenley Jansen

38 SV/2.77 ERA/12.6 K9

THE SKIPPER

Dave Roberts