National League West Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers
Justin Turner – The 33-year-old Turner is the obvious MVP of this team to me. They’ve lost Clayton Kershaw for periods of time before and still were able to win. But I don’t know if they can do that without a healthy and productive Justin Turner in the middle of the lineup. Turner is getting up there in years, and he’s starting this season on the disabled list. We won’t see him until May, and I’m very interested to see what kind of start the Dodgers get off to without him. He’s finished in the top 10 of the NL MVP voting the past two years, but he only player 130 games last year and will be lucky to reach that mark this year. He still hit .322 with 21 home runs last year, but we could be seeing the beginning of his decline, and that’s something the Dodgers lineup cannot afford.
Clayton Kershaw – I know what I said above, but the Dodgers have to have a dominant Kershaw in the playoffs to win a World Series. He’s not all that important to the team’s regular season success, but they can’t win a playoff series or World Series without him.
Prospect to Watch:
Walker Buehler – The Dodgers have three prospects in the top 52 according to MLB, and Buehler tops that list for LA coming in at 12th overall. The former first round pick and Vanderbilt product moved all the way from High-A to Triple-A last year, posting a 3.35 ERA in 88.2 innings pitched with 125 strikeouts. He actually got a cup of coffee with the Dodgers last year making eight appearances out of the bullpen with a 7.71 ERA in 9.1 innings pitched with 12 strikeouts. He didn’t allow a run in four innings this spring, while striking out 7. That K/9 rate is off the charts. He’ll start 2018 in the minors, but he’ll be back up at some point this season either as a starter or reliever.