Fantasy Baseball Analysis: Checking in with the Dodgers
After an eventful first week of sometimes real, and sometimes not real baseball games, some questions about the club have been answered, and some new ones have arisen. The team should be looking at a 3-0 start, but a blow up by setup man Brian Wilson on Sunday night against the Padres caused the Dodgers to head into week 2 at 2-1. Manager Don Mattingly did not do anything he wasn't expected to do, and the team still looks like a title worthy collection of talent. That being said, there is still a giant elephant in the room in the Dodgers clubhouse, and that is because their franchise pitcher Clayton Kershaw was placed on the DL due to a sore back last week. After making a successful 6 inning start on opening night, Kershaw experienced soreness in his upper back, and the team decided to err on the side of caution. As much as Kershaw has brushed this off as a precautionary measure, there still has to be a bit of concern for fantasy owners that invested a mid-first round pick on the southpaw. There hasn't been any news that would make any of his owners believe he would miss anymore time than the designated 15 days, but any trip around the L.A. rotation without Kershaw taking a turn is a loss nonetheless.
The second base conundrum has not really gotten any clearer, as Justin Turner started on opening night, while Dee Gordon started the next 2 games. Alexander Guerrero has been placed on the disabled list and will miss up to 3 months, so this looks to be a 2 man race. Gordon went 3 for 6 over his 2 starts, and obviously has the biggest upside of the pair vying for the spot, but he has burned us before when trusted. At best he will be a great option for steals if he takes over the job full time, and has a chance to hit .275 if he gets comfortable. I cannot anoint him a must add, but with depth severely lacking at the position, along with his SS eligibility, it makes him a solid add in most formats, but as a bench player, a solid fill-in in daily leagues for the time being. If he takes over the job full time, I say he is a must add with steals at a premium this year.
Hyun-Jin Ryu looks like the real deal in 2014, as this big game pitcher has gotten off to an explosive start, coming out of the gates with 12 Ks in 12 IP, without giving up a run, and only giving up 5 hits, and issuing 4 walks. He has not proven he can go deep into games thus far in his short career, so he does not currently hold value as a fantasy staff ace, but I predicted him (in my Dodgers pitcher preview) to be a great SP3 in 2014, and these 2 performances have only solidified that. If he starts getting through the 7th consistently, he may move up to SP2 territory by July.
The biggest question mark with the current healthy 25-man roster after these 3 games has to be the bullpen. After issuing 9 walks in 3 games, and not being able to put together a clean inning, the Dodgers bullpen appears to be in flux. This was suppose to be one of their biggest strengths, and it still should be, but not attacking the strike zone is causing them to fail. Even the usually untouchable Kenley Jansen gave up a home run, but a reshuffle would be weeks away at this point. One of the only moves that could be made would be to make Chris Perez the primary setup man, but he has been known to have blowups in the same manner Brian Wilson had on Sunday. Wilson's job is safe for the time being, so those in holds leagues should not panic. This team will win a lot of games, and at this point, Wilson will be the man holding down the 8th inning in 2014.
Matt Kemp hit off of designated 5th starter, and fellow disabled list member Josh Beckett in a simulated game Monday, and is on track to be activated from the disabled list on Friday. It has not been determined if he will be placed on the big team right away, or be sent on a rehab assignment. The team has said this is not a medical decision, but a baseball decision, as the organization is a bit skeptical of him going right into a big league game. He only spent a few days in big league camp this spring so the team wants to see for sure he is ready before activating him. A trip to the minors for a few days or even a week sounds like the course the team will take with Kemp. Expect him to be ready to go in week 4 of fantasy baseball, but be ready for him next week if the team decides he is all set.