It’s time for some 2021 Dodgers predictions. The 2020 Dodgers finished the season atop the MLB as World Series champions. Certain free agents have moved on, but the core of the team will return for the 2021 season. The off-season additions by the Padres will make this an interesting race as both teams will arm wrestle for NL West supremacy. Here are my 2021 Dodgers Predictions:
2021 Dodgers Predictions: The Pitching
2020 marked one of the first seasons where Clayton Kershaw was not relied upon to be the hero. Kershaw still had an impressive season, going 6-2 with a 2.16 ERA and 62 strikeouts. Walker Buehler struggled with a blister late in the season, but Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and Julio Urias helped complete a rotation to carry the Dodgers into and through the playoffs. May made the most of his first full season in the majors posting a 2.57 ERA. When locked in, he’s one of the best arms in the Dodgers rotation.
David Price chose to opt out of the 2020 season. His expected return in 2021 will give the Dodgers additional rotation depth. Julio Urias started 10 games for the Dodgers in 2020, but his biggest moment of the season came from the work he did out of the bullpen in the postseason.
The Dodgers will have to decide who will be in their five-man rotation, as they have six players who currently can make a case to start. My prediction is the Kershaw, Price, Buehler, May, and Urias will be the initial rotation, with Gonsolin filling in and possibly working out of the bullpen.
Pedro Baez will not be returning for the Dodgers in 2021, after joining the Astros in free agency. Kenley Jansen struggled in 2020, posting a 3.33 ERA which is the 2nd worst in his career. He ended up not being utilized as a closer in key moments of the 2020 postseason.
Brusdar Graterol is emerging as one of the most potent weapons in the Dodgers bullpen and could be a candidate to close out games in 2021 if Jansen proves to be unreliable. The Dodgers chose to re-sign Blake Treinen after he improved his ERA from 4.91 in 2019 to 3.86 in 2020 and came up in clutch moments for the Dodgers in the postseason.
There will be new and familiar faces joining the Dodgers bullpen this season after signing Tommy Kahnle, Corey Knebel, Brandon Morrow, Jimmy Nelson, and Brock Stewart. It unlikely that we will see Kahnle this year due to having surgery in December, but Knebel offers an additional option out of the bullpen. Victor Gonzalez and Dylan Floro were crucial to the success of the Dodgers postseason run in 2020, and will be relied upon heavily in 2021.
My 2021 Dodgers predictions for the pitching staff is that they will continue to be one of the top units in the majors. They combined to have the best ERA in majors in 2020 at 3.02, and they are returning their best arms.
2021 Dodgers Predictions: The Bats
The Dodgers excelled in hitting the long ball in 2021, combining for a league-leading 118 home runs. Mookie Betts and AJ Pollock tied for a team-high 16 bombs, while Corey Seager led the way with 41 RBI’s. Seager continued to be a doubles machine, driving in a team-leading 12 doubles. Cody Bellinger had a season that would probably be considered average by his standards, and I expect him to bounce back and have a better year in 2021.
Justin Turner‘s future will become more certain in the coming weeks, and I am optimistic that he will get a deal done to remain a Dodger. Turner tied with Seager for the team lead in batting average at .307. Will Smith is emerging as the top player that Dodgers fans hoped for, and he and Austin Barnes will continue to make a formidable catching tandem for the boys in blue.
The depth of the Dodgers lineup will be tested, as Kike’ Hernandez has signed with Boston and Joc Pederson‘s future is still uncertain. The Dodgers will need Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, and AJ Pollock to be key contributors.
After having a somewhat underwhelming start to his Dodgers career, Pollock had an impressive 2020 hitting 16 home runs and driving in 34 runs. Muncy will need to improve on putting the ball in play more consistently after only batting .192 in 2020. He is no stranger to hitting the deep ball, but he will need to get on base more consistently after a 2020 OPS of .720.
My 2021 Dodgers predictions for the bats are that they will continue to be one of the top hitting teams in the league. Taylor and Muncy are two players that I expect to have much better numbers in 2021 than in 2020. They are both players that will need to find ways to drive in more runs and contribute even further to the depth of this lineup.
2021 Dodgers Predictions: One Bold Prediction
Dustin May will contend for the CY Young award. Dustin May had an excellent first full season in the majors and will continue to improve in 2021. When at his best, May has some of the best stuff in the league. He was challenged often in the playoffs, but that experience will help prepare him for a career year in 2021.
2021 Dodgers Predictions: NL West Champions, MVP Finalist
The Dodgers will win the NL West in 2021. It will be very close, but I expect them to finish ahead of the Padres by 3.0 games. Mookie Betts will be in the running for the NL MVP, and he will lead the Dodgers in both home runs and RBI’s.
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