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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Dodgers' Great Spending Spree of 2012 continued into last offseason, and with the additions of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the star-studded squad was able to secure its first division title and postseason berth since 2009. Though the team's investment in pricey veterans like Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez paid off to some degree, it was three players in their pre-peak years -- Clayton Kershaw, Yasiel Puig and Kenley Jansen -- who were key to fueling the Dodgers' success.

That trio was also a big part of the success of many Fantasy owners. Of course, Kershaw cost the Dodgers $215 million this offseason, and he won't come cheap in Fantasy auctions or drafts either. Nor should he. His 1.83 ERA and 0.92 WHIP made him the most productive pitcher in Fantasy, and his consistency over the last three years is rivaled by none. As a rookie, Puig had his ups and downs, but his overall body of work -- reflected in a .319/.391/.534 slash line -- was impressive enough to make him a viable early round pick this year. Though he needed a meltdown by Brandon League to get a second chance to close, Jansen seized the opportunity and became one of the most valuable closers in Fantasy, despite having the role for less than two-thirds of the season. He heads into 2014 as one of Fantasy's top five closers.

2014 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

Like Jansen, Ramirez made the most of limited opportunities, ranking as the fifth-most productive shortstop in Rotisserie formats despite playing only 86 games. Numerous injuries shelved Ramirez during the 2013 season, and he scarcely played until mid-June. Health issues have put a damper on his Fantasy value at various times over the last four seasons, but if Ramirez can avoid injury, he could emerge as the top shortstop in Fantasy overall. Injuries are an even bigger concern for Matt Kemp (ankle, shoulder), but even with him being in danger of missing opening day, he will likely be taken in the early rounds of most drafts.

Gonzalez and Carl Crawford are past their days of being Fantasy elites, but both still have enough value to be worth mid-round picks. The same is true for the Dodgers' No. 2 and 3 starting pitchers, Greinke and Ryu. (Some would argue Greinke should still be taken in the early rounds, but I will make my case against that below.) Andre Ethier's role in the Dodger outfield is unclear for now, but he should garner enough at-bats to be worth a late-round gamble.

Aside from the re-signing of Kershaw, the Dodgers have had a relatively quiet offseason, but they have taken a stab at upgrading an already strong roster. Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero was signed to replace Mark Ellis at second base, though he will have to compete with Dee Gordon and Miguel Rojas before claiming the job. The team also dipped into the free agent market to add Dan Haren to a rotation mix that will also include Josh Beckett and possibly Chad Billingsley, who could return from Tommy John surgery as early as May. The Dodgers also beefed up the bullpen by signing former Indians closer Chris Perez and re-signing ex-Giants closer Brian Wilson, who joined the team during their playoff push last season.

The Dodgers appear to be a strong favorite to repeat as National League West champs, but aside from Kershaw, there are few safe bets on the roster. Though Ramirez, Kemp, Gonzalez and Crawford have been among the Fantasy elite within the past few years, and Puig threatens to be in the very near future, none offers the consistency one would want from an early pick. The team is fraught with risky options, but it is unquestionably deep in Fantasy talent.

Buyer beware (hitter edition) ... Matt Kemp, outfield

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Carl Crawford LF
2. Yasiel Puig RF
3. Hanley Ramirez SS
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
5. Matt Kemp CF
6. Juan Uribe 3B
7. A.J. Ellis C
8. Alexander Guerrero 2B
Bench Dee Gordon SS
Bench Andre Ethier OF

The last time Kemp was healthy enough to play a full season, he had an MVP-caliber year, but that campaign is now three years ago. Not only do Fantasy owners have to weigh the risks of drafting Kemp for steals and power that he may no longer deliver at his previous levels, but we also have to worry about how well he will recover from last fall's ankle and shoulder surgeries. Because Kemp is still on the youthful side of 30 and could provide a 20-20 season with a .300 average (or much more), it's tempting to start thinking of Kemp in the first two rounds. It's not a terrible move -- other top outfielders like Puig, Ryan Braun and Jose Bautista present their own risk/reward conundrums -- but it's one that could easily backfire. That early in the draft, you are probably better off settling on safe but unexciting Adam Jones or filling another position.

Buyer beware (pitcher edition) ... Zack Greinke, starting pitcher

Though Greinke finished as a top 20 Rotisserie starter last season (and just missed out on the top 20 in Head-to-Head), there were some ominous trends. Greinke's strikeout rate dipped notably for the second straight year, and his rate of called strikes fell dramatically. The differential between his fastball and changeup velocities shrank for the third straight year, and not surprisingly, hitters swung at the changeup far more frequently. Nonetheless, Greinke was surprisingly effective using his changeup. According to BrooksBaseball.net, hitters batted .240 on Greinke's changeup, whereas he allowed batting averages well above .300 in three of the four previous seasons. But he didn't get a higher rate of whiffs per swing, so there may have been an element of luck working in Greinke's favor on changeups put in play. He may not get away with allowing more contact on his changeup going forward, and should that happen, Greinke's ERA and WHIP will rise, and he won't have the strikeouts to make up for it. He could always reverse the trend, so Greinke could continue to be a top 20 starter, but he could just as easily slip into middle-of-the-rotation territory.

Bounceback candidate ... Dan Haren, starting pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Clayton Kershaw LHP
2. Zack Greinke RHP
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu LHP
4. Dan Haren RHP
5. Josh Beckett RHP
ALT Stephen Fife RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Kenley Jansen RHP
2. Brian Wilson RHP
3. Chris Perez RHP
4. Paco Rodriguez LHP
5. Brandon League RHP

Like Greinke, Haren was finding some of his secondary offerings -- namely, his cutter and splitter -- less deceptive due to a small difference in velocity compared to his fastball. After returning from a midseason trip to the disabled list, Haren started throwing softer cutters and splitters. Over the next three months, he sported an 8.6 K/9 ratio and a 3.29 ERA, looking more like the Haren from his Diamondback days. The 33-year-old will try to keep his momentum going with the Dodgers, and if he succeeds, he could provide great value for a late-round pick.

Prospects Report

Alexander Guerrero could be the only Dodger prospect to make an impact in 2014, and at age 27, he probably has a limited window to make an impression. ... Joc Pederson kept his power numbers intact after jumping from the California League to the Southern League. He offers a nice combination of power, on-base percentage and steals, but a surging strikeout rate is something to watch. Even with a strong Triple-A campaign, the Dodgers have a full outfield, so don't count on a 2014 callup. ... In dynasty leagues, now is a good time to buy low on Corey Seager. He may have been a little too aggressive in the California League, as his strikeout and flyball rates surged, but the potential to hit for power and average is still there for the 19-year-old shortstop. ... With Beckett's health still somewhat in question, Zach Lee could get a chance to join the Dodgers' rotation sooner than later. Single-season league owners only need to consider him in their NL-only leagues. ... 21-year-old Chris Anderson and 17-year-old Julio Urias have just one year of professional ball under their belts, so while both appear a long way off from the majors, both should be owned in dynasty leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al at @almelccbs .

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Player News
Rockies SP Chad Bettis allows 11 hits in Monday's win
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Despite giving up 11 hits in Monday's 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks, Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis received a no-decision for his effort.

The 11 hits led to four runs over six innings of work. He also struck out four and did not walk a batter.

Bettis has not received a loss in his last four starts.


Report: Giants acquire Alejandro De Aza from Red Sox
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:17 am ET) The Giants were able to acquire outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the Red Sox, sources told Fox Sports. De Aza is hitting .261 with seven home runs and 32 RBI in 90 games.

Giants' Hunter Pence unlikely to go on rehab assignment
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:04 am ET) With Giants outfielder Hunter Pence slowing working his way back from an oblique injury, manager Bruce Bochy said it's doubtful he would be ready for a rehab assignment before Minor League clubs end their season next week, reports MLB.com.

"It's going to take a little time, I think," he said.

Pence is on the disabled list with an oblique strain.


Nationals SP Gio Gonzalez solid on Monday, gets no-decision
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(8/31/2015) Left-hander Gio Gonzalez tossed a quality start on Monday, but the Nationals fell to the Cardinals 8-5. Gonzalez allowed three runs on five hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out four, throwing 55 of his 91 pitches for strikes.

All three runs to score against Gonzalez came in the fourth inning on a trio of RBI singles. Despite leaving the game with the Nationals trailing 3-2, Gonzalez escaped with a no-decision after the Nationals rallied to tie the game. The Cardinals put on a rally of their own, en route to the 8-5 final.

This was a better outing for Gonzalez, who had allowed at least four runs in each of his previous three starts. Still, he struggled through the month of August, going 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA in six outings.


Cardinals RP Trevor Rosenthal back at it, gets 42nd save Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(8/31/2015) Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal returned from the paternity list on Monday, and was immediately thrown back into the fire. The right-hander worked a scoreless ninth inning against the Nationals, earning his 42nd save of the season. It wasn't without a little bit of drama, however.

Rosenthal started the ninth by allowing the first two batters to reach base safely. But he worked out of the jam by getting Clint Robinson swinging to end the game, as the Cardinals went on to win 8-5.


Cardinals' John Lackey sees bullpen waste his fine effort Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(8/31/2015) Cardinals starter John Lackey was excellent in his outing against the Nationals on Monday. The right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits over six solid innings. He walked four and struck out eight, throwing 63 of his 105 pitches for strikes.

Despite the fine outing, Lackey was left with a no-decision, as the Cardinals' bullpen coughed up the lead. The Cardinals would rally back, however, as they wound up with the 8-5 victory.

Lackey, who lowered his season ERA to 2.87 on Monday, was excellent in the month of August. In six starts, he went 2-2 with a 3.21 ERA.


Reds RP Aroldis Chapman picks up save Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/31/2015) Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman earned his 26th save of the season during Monday's 13-6 win over the Cubs.

Chapman allowed a solo home run over 1 2/3 innings to pick up the save. His ERA is now 1.82.


Cubs SP Kyle Hendricks receives no-decision in Monday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/31/2015) Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks pitched well enough to win during Monday's loss to the Reds, but the bullpen could not hold the lead.

Hendricks allowed three runs on five hits over five innings of work. He also struck out four and walked three.

Hendricks is winless in his last four starts and has no quality outings.


Mariners' Mark Trumbo slugs two homers in losing effort Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(8/31/2015) Mariners first baseman Mark Trumbo did his best to give his club a win on Monday, as he went 2 for 4 with a pair of home runs. It wasn't enough however, as the Mariners lost to the Astros by the score of 8-3.

Trumbo blasted a solo shot in the second inning to tie the game a 1-1. He then added a two-run shot in the ninth inning. Those were the only runs the Mariners would muster up however.

The pair of big flies give Trumbo a total of 19 on the season. It was just his second multi-homer game of the season, and his first since May 12 when he was with the Diamondbacks. 


Reds SP Michael Lorenzen takes no-decision in Monday's win
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/31/2015) Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen could not get out of the fifth inning during Monday's 13-6 win over the Cubs and received a no-decision as a result.

Lorenzen allowed five runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings. He also struck out five and walked one. His ERA is now 5.66.

Lorenzen's last win came on June 21.


 
 
 
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