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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
Hunter Harvey has no ligament damage in elbow
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:54 pm ET) An MRI revealed Orioles starting pitcher prospect Hunter Harvey has a strained flexor mass in his pitching arm, according to MLB.com. He will miss his next start for Class A Delmarva, but he has no ligament damage in his elbow.

The 2013 first-round pick (22nd) is 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA and .209 opponents' batting average in 17 starts. He has 106 strikeouts in 87 2/3 innings.


Rafael Soriano off Wednesday, following blown save
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:54 pm ET) Nationals closer Rafael Soriano was given the day off Wednesday, after appeared in four games over the last week. He blew his fourth save of the season Tuesday against the Marlins, but manager Matt Williams told CSNWashington.com he will be back in the closer's role beginning Thursday.  

Drew Storen struggles, picks up first save
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:51 pm ET) Nationals reliever Drew Storen was used as the closer Wednesday against the Marlins, and nearly gave the game away.

With Rafael Soriano off for day, Storen was asked to preserve a three-run lead in the ninth inning. He was charged with two runs on three hits and a walk, and had the tying and go-ahead runs on base when he ended the game on a groundout.

Storen picked up his first save of the season, despite his ERA rising to 1.53 with the outing. He has 29 strikeouts and eight walks in 35 1/3 innings of work.  


Avisail Garcia, Matt Lindstrom to begin rehab stints Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:50 pm ET) Two White Sox standouts are all but set to begin rehab stints with Charlotte. Outfielder Avisail Garcia and former closer Matt Lindstrom will play for that Triple-A team on Friday.

Garcia has been out since April 9 with a shoulder injury. Lindstrom hasn't pitched since May 19 after sustaining an ankle injury.


Darwin Barney assigned to Triple-A roster
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:49 pm ET) The Dodgers optioned infielder Darwin Barney to Triple-A Albuquerque Wednesday. Los Angeles acquired Barney in a trade with the Cubs earlier this week.

Homer-happy Lucas Duda goes deep again
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:45 pm ET) Mets first baseman Lucas Duda's power surge continued Wednesday, as he went deep again in an 11-2 win over the Phillies.

Duda went 2 for 5 in the game, with a two-run home run in the eighth inning to cap off the scoring. He added an RBI single in the seventh, while he struck out once and scored twice.

Duda has homered five times in the last eight games, and now ranks sixth in the National League with 19 for the season. He is hitting .262/.358/.506 in 324 at-bats.  


Nate Jones done for year after having Tommy John surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:42 pm ET) White Sox reliever Nate Jones was originally sidelined because of a back injury. He will now miss the rest of the season and much longer after undergoing Tommy John surgery Tuesday, the team announced Wednesday.

Jones suffered a torn UCL while he was ramping up activity in his recovery from his back injury. The elbow surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews.


Indians shuffle rotation for weekend series against Rangers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:40 pm ET) The Indians have altered their rotation for the weekend series against visiting Texas. The trade of Justin Masterson, who was slated to pitch Friday, has pushed Danny Salazar into the role that night.

Following Salazar to the mound will be left-hander T.J. House on Saturday and Trevor Bauer on Sunday. House had been sent down to Triple-A Columbus last week after managing just three quality starts in nine outings and compiling a 4.50 ERA.


Ubaldo Jimenez will make next rehab start for Triple-A team
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:36 pm ET) Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (ankle) will make a rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday or Monday. The Orioles are finalizing the plan for Jimenez's second rehab start.

Didi Gregorius stays hot with two-run blast in Cincinnati
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:35 pm ET) Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius remained on his most impressive run of the season Wednesday in Cincinnati.

Gregorius gave his team a 5-1 lead with his fourth homer, a two-run blast in the ninth inning. He also singled and stole a base.

The second-year player has nine hits in his last 23 at-bats with two home runs.


 
 
 
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