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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Dodgers' off-the-field exploits -- namely the divorce case and team ownership dispute between Frank and Jamie McCourt -- drew attention away from a mediocre season in 2010. In Joe Torre's final turn as the team's manager, the Dodgers finished two games under .500 and only one step above the National League West cellar.

The team made a number of low-key moves this offseason, re-signing midseason acquisition Ted Lilly and picking up fifth starter Jon Garland to fill out the rotation. Juan Uribe replaces Ryan Theriot at second base, while Rod Barajas gives the Dodgers a new face behind the plate, with Russell Martin opting to sign with the Yankees. The dugout has a new face as well, as Don Mattingly takes over as manager.

One item has yet to be checked off the Dodgers' to-do list: replace Manny Ramirez. Since his departure last August, left field has been patched together by a committee, and it appears that will be the case again this year. Jay Gibbons, Tony Gwynn and Marcus Thames should all get a chance at playing time and be Ramirez's short-term successor, at least until prospects Jerry Sands and Trayvon Robinson arrive.

Without the impact of a major offseason signing or trade, the Dodgers will rely on several players to have bounce-back years in order for them to contend. Matt Kemp's ride to superstardom hit a bump last year, as his batting average slid from .297 to .249. The normally-steady Casey Blake started to show his age, while rising star Jonathan Broxton blew seven of 29 save chances and lost the closer's role for the final two months of the season. A breakout from 26-year-old James Loney wouldn't hurt either, though three straight years of stagnant production suggest that may be a pipe dream.

The Dodgers' deep rotation and bullpen will keep them in most games, but even with All-Star Andre Ethier and a potentially-resurgent Kemp in the lineup, a sputtering offense could leave the Dodgers bluer than ever.

Sleeper ... Rafael Furcal, SS

Furcal is certainly a playing-time risk, as he has failed to appear in more than 100 games in two of the last three seasons. He has been dogged by back and hamstring injuries, but he is heading into the 2011 campaign healthy and rested. He still has good power for a shortstop and can still provide Fantasy owners with 20 or more steals. Ultimately, other middle-of-the-pack options, such as Yunel Escobar and Starlin Castro, may be better bets to stay healthy, but few can offer the speed-power combination that Furcal can. He will finish among the top 10 shortstops in Fantasy as long as he can stay in the lineup.

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Bust ... Jonathan Broxton, RP

A year ago, Broxton was coming off a sensational season that gave him the appearance of being an elite closer. In retrospect, 2009 was more of an aberration than a breakout for him. Last year, he didn't sustain the large spikes in velocity and strikeout rate that he enjoyed the year before, and he went back to being very hittable on balls in play. While his .375 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) should recede somewhat, Broxton could still be a liability in the WHIP category, even though he will likely strike out more than a batter per inning. With Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen looming as ninth-inning options, Broxton will be treading on thin ice yet again as the Dodgers' closer.

Bounce-back player ... Matt Kemp, OF

Over his first two full seasons, Kemp established himself as a player on the rise, holding his batting average and stolen base total steady while increasing his power. Last year, the power continued to increase, but that was overshadowed by huge hits to his average and steals. Kemp is still only 26, just old enough to be entering the peak of his career. It's not unusual for a young player to take a step back before plateauing into his best years. There is no reason to think that Kemp will repeat or do worse than his 2010 performance and 2011 provides owners with a great buy-low opportunity. Kemp's collapse last year was neither complete nor part of a long-term trend. Expect Kemp to produce like a No. 2 Fantasy outfielder, though you may be able to draft him as your No. 3.

Los Angeles Dodgers Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Clayton Kershaw LH
2 Matt Kemp CF 2 Chad Billingsley RH
3 Andre Ethier RF 3 Ted Lilly LH
4 James Loney 1B 4 Hiroki Kuroda RH
5 Casey Blake 3B 5 Jon Garland RH
6 Juan Uribe 2B Alt Vicente Padilla RH
7 Jay Gibbons LF
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Rod Barajas C CL Jonathan Broxton RH
Top bench options SU Hong-Chih Kuo LH
R Jamey Carroll SS/2B RP Matt Guerrier RH
R Tony Gwynn OF RP Kenley Jansen RH
R Marcus Thames OF RP Carlos Monasterios RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Dee Gordon 22 SS Double-A Triple-A
Minors stats are amazing for someone who didn't play baseball until four years ago. Should make big-league debut in '11.
2 Jerry Sands 23 OF Double-A Double-A
Power translated from low minors to Double-A. Could get a shot in L.A. outfield later this year.
3 Kenley Jansen 23 RP Majors Majors
Flamethrower impressed in big league debut. If Broxton struggles, he will enter the closer picture.
4 Trayvon Robinson 22 OF Double-A Triple-A
Switch-hitter has great leadoff skills, despite a high K-rate. Could make his big league debut in 2011.
5 Rubby De La Rosa 22 SP Double-A Double-A
Future role is unclear, but we could see his triple-digit fastball in the majors sometime this year.
Best of the rest: Zach Lee, SP; Chris Withrow, SP; Allen Webster, SP; Scott Elbert, RP; Ethan Martin, SP; Aaron Miller, SP; Leon Landry, OF; Kyle Russell, OF; Garrett Gould, SP; Brian Cavazos-Galvez, OF; James Baldwin, OF; Jake Lemmerman, SS; Jonathan Garcia, OF; Javier Solano, RP; Matt Magill, SP; Ivan DeJesus, 2B; and Josh Lindblom, RP.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Team outlooks in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

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Player News
Paco Rodriguez expected back after roster expansion
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:00 pm ET) Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez, on the disabled list with a strained teres major muscle, has been limited to less than max effort throwing so far as he continues to recover. According to the Orange County Register, he is not expected to return to the majors before Sept. 1 roster expansion. 

Chris Perez does not expect to be 100 percent
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:51 am ET) Though he expects to be in the majors when rosters expand Sept. 1, Dodgers reliever Chris Perez admitted to the Orange County Register Friday his ankle is still not 100-percent healthy.

"It's serviceable," Perez said. "I feel good. I'm still trying to build up the strength in it."

Perez has a 5.03 ERA in the majors this season, and is trying to work his way back from bone spurs in his ankle. He does not expect to undergo surgery to remove them, so he will have to manage the pain. He is currently on a rehab assignment at Class A Rancho Cucamonga, where he will make one more appearance next Friday. 


Logan Watkins starting Friday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:38 am ET) Cubs infielder Logan Watkins is in the starting lineup Friday against the Orioles, one day after being called up from Triple-A. This will be his first start of the season and just sixth in his career. 

Adam Eaton could return shortly after beginning assignment
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:13 am ET) White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton is set to begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte this weekend, and could be back in the majors soon after, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Eaton, who has been out two weeks with a strained right oblique, could be back from the disabled list as early as Tuesday, when the team opens a series against the Indians. 


Brian Schlitter begins rookie-level rehab
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:36 am ET) Cubs pitcher Brian Schlitter began his rehab assignment with a scoreless inning for the Arizona League Cubs Thursday, as he continues to work his way back from a shoulder injury. Schlitter has been out since Aug. 10 due to inflammation in his shoulder, and it is not clear when he is expected back. 

Blake Parker shuttled back to Triple-A
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:32 am ET) Cubs pitcher Blake Parker was sent right back down to Triple-A Iowa following the conclusion of the team's doubleheader, for which he served as the 26th man.

Parker appeared in Thursday's game, allowing two hits and striking out two batters over one scoreless inning of relief. It lowered his season ERA to 6.08 in 13 1/3 innings. 


Clayton Kershaw goes eight strong for win No. 15
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:10 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw had a no-hitter going against the Padres until the sixth inning. The ace surrendered his first hit to opposing starter Tyson Ross.

Kershaw went eight innings strong for the win at home on Thursday, improving to 15-3 on the year. The southpaw permitted one run on three hits and two walks while striking out 10 in a 2-1 victory. Of his 103 pitches, 69 were strikes. He improved to 15-3 on the year, matching Johnny Cueto, Wily Peralta and Adam Wainwright for the major-league lead in victories. 

Over his last three starts covering 25 innings, Kershaw has allowed five earned runs. He has gone eight-plus innings in seven of his last nine starts. He owns a 1.82 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP over 21 starts (153 1/3 innings). He will make his next start Wednesday at Arizona.

Kenley Jansen slams door shut on Padres
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:07 am ET) Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen struck out two and worked past a walk in a scoreless ninth inning for the save Thursday night at home against the Padres. Jansen has converted 36 of 40 save chances, with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP over 52 1/3 innings of relief.

Tyson Ross goes the distance in losing effort
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:59 am ET) Padres pitcher Tyson Ross tossed a complete game but took a tough-luck loss to the Dodgers Thursday night, dropping to 11-12 on the season. The right-hander permitted two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out eight over eight innings of a 2-1 defeat.

Ross is 0-4 with a 2.67 ERA and 29 strikeouts over 27 innings pitched against the Dodgers this season. The offense has only backed him with two runs over that span. He'll look to bounced Tuesday at home against Milwaukee.

Travis Wood suffers 11th loss of the season
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:53 am ET) Cubs pitcher Travis Wood took the loss Thursday night at home against the Giants, dropping to 7-11 on the season. The left-hander permitted four runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out six over six innings of a 5-3 defeat.

Over his last two starts covering 11 1/3 innings, Wood has allowed seven earned runs. He owns a 4.91 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP over 26 starts (150 1/3 innings). He will look to bounce back Wednesday in Cincinnati.

 
 
 
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