The Dodgers had a very underrated run at the end of last season, mostly because they never made it all the way back into contention. They finished 82-79, mostly because they had the league's best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw and arguably the league's best hitter in Matt Kemp. Manager Don Mattingly seems to have gotten the hang of things after his first year on the bench and I think the team is poised for some success. The added Mark Ellis to play 2B and starting pitchers Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang to the rotation. I also like the looks of their bullpen.
The starting lineup has developed into something that should produce. Dee Gordon (.304, 0, 11, 24 SB in 56 games) should hit for average and steal bases in the leadoff spot. Ellis (.248, 7, 41 with Oakland and Colorado) should have a bounceback season now that he is healthy. Kemp, in my opinion, should have won the NL MVP with his .324, 39, 126 season of a year ago. Andre Ethier (.292, 11, 62) is on his contract year and has had flashes of brilliance. Juan Rivera (.258, 11, 74) and James Loney (.288, 12, 65) complete the middle of the order. Juan Uribe (.204, 4, 28) is a question mark as it is uncertain if he can regain the form when he helped lead the San Francisco Giants to the World Series in 2010. They added Jerry Hairston Jr, who was the starting 3B for the Milwaukee Brewers in the playoffs last season to give them depth anywhere on the infield. AJ Ellis (.271, 2, 11 in 31 games) will do the catching.
Kershaw (21-5, 2.28, 5 CG, 248 K, NL Cy Young) carries the staff and is joined by holdovers Chad Billingsley (11-11, 4.21) and Ted Lilly (12-14, 3.97). Newcomers Capuano (11-12, 4.55) and Harang (14-7, 3.64) fill out the rotation.
The bullpen should be deep, if not spectacular. Javy Guerra (2-2, 2.31, 21 sv) gets the full season as the closer. Kenley Jansen (2-1, 2.85, 51 games) is the next best option and Matt Guerrier (4-3, 4.07, 71 games) looks to bounce back from a tough first season in LA. Mike MacDougal (3-1, 2.05, 69 games) had a solid season in 2011. They add Todd Coffey (5-1, 3.62, 69) and Jamey Wright (2-3, 3.16, 60) to the mix giving them several options.
I like this mix of players and pitchers. Other than Kemp and Kershaw, there is no star power but this is a team that I think will play well together. Vegas has them at 81.5 for the O/U and I think they will finish over, at 86-76. This will be good enough to make the postseason as the second wild card and play in the one game playoff. Gordon should become a household name and I think the rotation will produce workman-like innings to keep the team in games. The depth of the bullpen will allow them to bring relievers in early and if guys like Wright and Coffey are effective, they will be at an advantage. I expect big years from Ethier and Rivera and a bounce back from Uribe. This team will be fun to watch.