MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Clayton Kershaw and the LA Dodgers on Paper

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIMarch 24, 2011

MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Clayton Kershaw and the LA Dodgers on Paper

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    GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  Pitcher Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against Texas Rangers during the spring training baseball game at Camelback Ranch on March 15, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Im
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    The Dodgers addressed two issues in the offseason; pitching depth and power.

    Los Angeles was 14th in the National League in home runs last season.  Grant it, Rod Barajas and Juan Uribe aren't sexy signings, but they add pop to the lineup.

    The organization got pitching depth to put behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley with the re-signings of Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda and the signing of Jon Garland.

    After a three year stint in Dodger Blue, Joe Torre decided to hang it up.  Don Mattingly now takes over.

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Infield

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    PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 27:  Rafael Furcal #15 of the Los Angeles Dodgers plays shortstop during spring training at Camelback Ranch on February 27, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images
    • C-   Rod Barajas—7 
    • 1B- James Loney—7.25 
    • 2B- Juan Uribe—7 
    • SS- Rafael Furcal—7.25 
    • 3B- Casey Blake—7

    Rod Barajas (35) 313 AB .240 BA 39 R 17 HR 47 RBI 0 SB 

    • Barajas looks to lift and launch the ball out of the ballpark with his uppercut swing.  He lacks mobility behind the plate, but he has a solid arm.

    James Loney (26) 588 AB .267 BA 67 R 10 HR 88 RBI 10 SB

    • Loney Tunes had an off year with his batting average; he’s usually around the .280-.290 mark.  He’s never been a power guy.  He’s a line-drive hitter who has good plate discipline.  Loney has natural fielding ability.  He gobbles up everything.

    Juan Uribe  (32) 521 AB .248 BA 64 R 24 HR 85 RBI 1 SB

    • Uribe was signed for his power.  He has a very aggressive approach, and loves the fastball.  He’s versatile in the field and can play any position. 

    Rafael Furcal (33) 383 AB .300 BA 66 R 8 HR 43 RBI 22 SB

    • Furcal has played less than 100 games in two of the past three years.  The switch-hitter has a quick bat from both sides, and hits line drives into the gaps.  Furcal continues to have one of the strongest arms in baseball at the shortstop position. 

    Casey Blake (37) 509 AB .248 BA 56 R 17 HR 64 RBI 0 SB

    • Blake’s production has been consistent throughout his career, but his age may be catching up to him.  He saw dips in most offensive categories last year.  In the field, he has good hands but lacks range.

Outfield

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    PHOENIX - JULY 03:  Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at bat during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 3, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images
    • LF- Jay Gibbons—7 
    • CF- Matt Kemp—8 
    • RF- Andre Ethier—8

    Jay Gibbons (34) 75 AB .280 BA 11 R 5 HR 17 RBI 0 SB

    • Gibbons, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Marcus Thames are all fighting for playing time in left.  Thames kills left-handed pitching, and Gwynn Jr. has had a solid spring.  Gibbons has barely played in the bigs the last three seasons.

    Matt Kemp (26) 602 AB .249 BA 82 R 28 HR 89 RBI 19 SB

    • Dodger fans are still waiting for Matt Kemp to platoon into a superstar.  He saw a 40-point dip in his batting average last year.  He’s a dangerous fastball hitter, but he can be tied up inside.  He’s an athletic center fielder who uses his speed to run down balls in the gap.  He does need to improve his instincts.

    Andre Ethier (28) 517 AB .292 BA 71 R 23 HR 82 RBI 2 SB

    • Ethier has been the most consistent Dodger over recent years.  He gets through the hitting zone quickly, and turns on fastballs on the inner-half.  He’s just an average fielder.

Starting Pitching

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 21:  Chad Billingsley #58 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants on July 21, 2010 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Billingsley pitched a complete game shutout as the Dodgers won 2-0.
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
    • 1. Clayton Kershaw—8
    • 2. Chad Billingsley—7.5
    • 3. Hiroki Kuroda—7.25
    • 4. Ted Lilly—7.25
    • 5. Jon Garland—7.25

    Clayton Kershaw (23) 204 IP 13-10 2.91 ERA 1.18 WHIP 212 K

    • Kershaw topped to 200 inning, 200 strikeout plateau for the first time in his career.  Everything revolves around his fastball.  His curveball is one of the best in baseball.  He also mixes in a quick slider and changeup.  He continues to struggle with his pitch count. 

    Chad Billingsley (26) 192 IP 12-11 3.57 ERA 1.28 WHIP 171 K

    • Billingsley is an aggressive pitcher who, like Kershaw, can struggle with pitch counts.  It seems like he’s always behind in the count.  He has a hard fastball, and mixes in a cutter with late movement.  He lacks consistency with his secondary pitches.

    Hiroki Kuroda (36) 196 IP 11-13 3.39 ERA 1.16 WHIP 159 K

    • Consistency is what Kuroda brings to the table.  He has a deceptive delivery, and hesitates at the top of his windup.  He gets good movement with his fastball.  He blends in a quick slider and a late diving splitter.

    Ted Lilly (35) 194 IP 10-12 3.62 ERA 1.08 WHIP 166 K

    • Lilly is a strike thrower.  He causes deception by hiding the ball with an exaggerated shoulder turn.  He commands his fastball to both sides of the plate, and mixes speeds with it.  He also has a quick slider, slow looping curveball and a solid changeup.

    Jon Garland (31) 200 IP 14-12 3.47 ERA 1.32 WHIP 136 K

    • Garland had arguably the best year of his career last year in San Diego.  He’s a tall lanky starter who gets good sinking movement with his fastball.  His secondary pitches are OK, but nothing devastating.

Bullpen

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 09:  Jonathan Broxton #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on May 9, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Rockies 2-0.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Ge
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images
    • RP- Kenley Jansen—7
    • RP- Ramon Trancoso—7
    • RP- Matt Guerrier—7.25
    • SU- Hong-Chih Kuo—7.5
    • CP- Jonathan Broxton—7.25

    Matt Guerrier, Ramon Trancoso, Kenley Jansen

    • Guerrier was signed to a three-year deal.  He led the AL in appearances in two of the last three years.

    Hong-Chih Kuo (29) 60 IP 3-2 12 SV 1.20 ERA .78 WHIP 73 K

    • Kuo took over the closer role in the second half of last season, and was dominant.  He throws a mid-90’s fastball, and a sweeping slider. 

    Jonathan Broxton (26) 62 IP 5-6 22 SV 4.04 ERA 1.48 WHIP 73 K

    • Broxton was taken out of the closers role when he stopped locating his big upper-90’s fastball.  He’s dominant when he locates the pitch.  He also has a late breaking, quick slider.

Sizing Up the Dodgers on Paper

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    PHOENIX - JULY 03:  Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers on deck during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 3, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Projected Batting Lineup 

    • 1. Rafael Furcal—7.25
    • 2. Juan Uribe—7
    • 3. Andre Ethier—8
    • 4. Matt Kemp—8
    • 5. James Loney—7.25
    • 6. Casey Blake—7 
    • 7. Jay Gibbons—7
    • 8. Rod Barajas—7

    Projected Starting Rotation

    • 1. Clayton Kershaw—8
    • 2. Chad Billingsley—7.5
    • 3. Hiroki Kuroda—7.25
    • 4. Ted Lilly—7.25
    • 5. Jon Garland—7.25

    Bullpen

    • RP- Kenley Jansen—7
    • RP- Ramon Trancoso—7
    • RP- Matt Guerrier—7.25
    • SU- Hong-Chih Kuo—7.5
    • CP- Jonathan Broxton—7.25

    Bench

    Tony Gwynn Jr., Marcus Thames, Jamey Carroll, Dioner Navarro—7.25

    Manager

    Don Mattingley—7

    INF—35.5

    OF—23

    SP—37.25

    RP—7.25

    CP—14.75

    MISC—14.25

    Hitting—58.5

    Pitching—59.25

    TOTAL—132

Prediction

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Ted Lilly #29 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 25, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Lilly earned the win as the Dodgers defeated the Rockies 3-1.  (Photo by Doug
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    This team has talent, but they've eclipsed the 90 win plateau just once in the past five years.

    All in all, they're better than last year's team, but I think they fall short of a playoff berth.  The good sign, they play well against their division rivals.  They went 40-32 against the NL West last season.

    Prediction—83-79 3rd NL West