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Los Angeles Dodgers Series Preview: The best has arrived

The score the most, they allow the least. They’re a juggernaut.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers are the best team in baseball. I don’t think there’s any controversy in that statement, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. They have the best record, the best run differential, they score the most runs per game and they allow the fewest. Their offense has above average hitters from top to bottom with some of their biggest strugglers being players who have been their best in recent seasons at various times. Their number nine hitter is probably their worst overall hitter and he was the National League MVP in 2019. Granted, he’s struggled mightily the last two seasons, but that just shows the depth they have. Even with both Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler on the shelf, they boast a fantastic rotation, though with a bit less star power. I’d argue their bullpen is their biggest weakness and they have one of the four best bullpen ERAs in baseball. I don’t know if they’ll win the World Series, but as much as we’ve said the Yankees and Mets and Astros are the best team at various times this year, the title has always resided with the Dodgers and they’re showing why right now.

Royals vs. Dodgers Matchup Stats

Category Royals Dodgers
Category Royals Dodgers
Winning % .416 .700
Team wRC+ 96 121
Team xFIP 4.47 3.70
Run Differential -114 236
Highest fWAR Bobby Witt Jr., 1.8 Freddie Freeman, 4.9

Dodgers Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Mookie Betts RF 431 .275 .343 .534 8.8% 16.7% 144 4.7
Trea Turner SS 486 .308 .347 .504 5.8% 18.5% 137 4.4
Freddie Freeman 1B 492 .322 .398 .521 10.8% 14.8% 156 4.9
Will Smith C 397 .275 .363 .478 10.6% 16.1% 137 3.4
Max Muncy 3B 366 .180 .317 .360 16.4% 25.4% 96 1.0
Justin Turner DH 363 .260 .333 .411 9.6% 16.8% 110 1.4
Gavin Lux 2B 366 .294 .369 .421 10.9% 17.2% 125 2.9
Joey Gallo LF 288 .165 .281 .351 13.9% 39.6% 84 0.4
Cody Bellinger CF 405 .210 .267 .402 6.9% 27.4% 86 1.3

Dodgers Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Austin Barnes C 139 .171 .295 .308 12.9% 16.5% 78 0.6
Hanser Alberto INF/OF 111 .255 .261 .391 0.9% 17.1% 81 -0.2
Chris Taylor INF/OF 299 .234 .314 .411 10.0% 35.8% 104 1.6
Trayce Thompson OF 111 .281 .378 .510 12.6% 32.4% 151 1.3

I should note that the Dodgers platoon a good amount, so Muncy, Lux and Gallo are likely to be replaced by Taylor, Alberto and Thompson against a lefty.

Dodgers Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Craig Kimbrel 42 40.0 3 4 29.7% 9.3% 4.28 3.70 1.0
Evan Phillips 45 45.0 5 3 32.0% 7.1% 1.40 2.94 1.4
Alex Vesia 44 36.1 3 0 30.8% 10.1% 2.97 3.22 0.7

Royals vs. Dodgers Probable Pitching Matchups

August 12 - RHP Tony Gonsolin vs. LHP Daniel Lynch, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Tony Gonsolin 20 109.2 13 1 24.2% 6.9% 2.30 3.71 1.9
Daniel Lynch 17 82.2 4 7 22.9% 8.8% 4.79 4.19 1.0

While I think Tony Gonsolin emerging this year might have been sort of surprising, I’m not sure it should be that big of a shock. No, he’d never thrown more than 55.2 big league innings, but even last year when he wasn’t great, he was still really good at the big league level. He did struggle with walks, but he started this year so strong and hasn’t really stopped since. He didn’t allow more than two earned runs in a start until July 13 against the Cardinals and that started a run of three straight starts where he did, but then he threw five shutout innings against the Padres in his last outing. He mixes four pitches, but really hitters only have to be on the lookout for three as he uses his curve more on lefties and his slider more on righties. His fastball is okay, but where he gets a ton of outs on a very good splitter while both his breaking balls get swings and misses. What’s crazy about his season is that he has gotten better late in games. And not just a little better. He’s allowed a .131/.185/.180 line the third time through the order. And a .100/.156/.150 line after his 75th pitch. The Dodgers don’t let him get too deep. He’s pitched more than six innings just three times and has only reached 98 pitches in a game, but he’s been fantastic.

Career vs KC: First Appearance

Daniel Lynch feels like the type of pitcher who the Dodgers would salivate over, pick him up in a deal and turn him into a Cy Young contender overnight. You can see the tantalizing stuff with him on any given night and over his last seven starts has really shown it with the strikeout and walk numbers, striking out 43 batters and walking 11 in 34 innings. That includes a game where he walked five. It also includes two separate stints on the IL because of blisters. Those blisters may be causing his slider to lag just a bit from where it was early in the year, but his fastball has picked up the slack nicely. He’s given up some hits on it, but opponents are rarely doing damage on it. I still want to see him get that fastball a little higher in the zone as it’s catching too much of the heart, but it’s been a nice pitch for him. But his changeup has picked up the slack for the slider over these seven starts with a .346 SLG allowed compared to .592 before. If he can get the feel for his slider back with that changeup working, he’ll be a tough guy to face for any lineup.

Career vs. LAD: First Appearance

August 13 - LHP Andrew Heaney vs. RHP Brad Keller, 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Andrew Heaney 6 28.0 1 0 31.6% 8.5% 0.64 3.35 1.0
Brad Keller 21 119.1 6 12 15.7% 8.6% 4.45 4.34 1.0

The Dodgers signed Andrew Heaney very fast when the offseason began. I think it might have been the first free agent transaction. He’d been a mainstay for the Angels for awhile now, but just wasn’t getting it done. The Yankees liked his fastball and acquired him and it didn’t work out there either, but the Dodgers pounced, which made people jump on him as a sleeper for this season. He made two very good starts before a shoulder injury sidelined him. Then he came back and was very good in one start before another shoulder injury (probably the same, honestly) sidelined him again. And now he’s been back for three starts and hasn’t given innings but has been effective. His fastball is spinning and getting whiffs even without elite velocity. And his slider has been bonkers good with a whiff rate over 40 percent. And that’s about all he throws. He’s been great against everyone but has been especially tough on lefties. But he isn’t going to give many innings. He’s pitched into the sixth in just two of his six starts. So even if he’s great, the Royals may not have to deal with him for too long.

Career vs. KC: 3 GS, 20.2 IP, 1-0, 1.74 ERA

It’s been an adventure for Brad Keller this year, but particularly since the All-Star break. He started with a rough start against the Rays, a decent start against the Angels and then another bad start against the White Sox. But he only gave up one run on four hits in six innings against the Red Sox in his last start, so maybe he’s sorted some issues out. We know what he can look like when he gets his mechanics working, so the hope will have to be that they are working for this one against a very good offense. He’s only made one start against a top-10 run scoring offense in baseball this season, but he did throw six shutout innings against the Cardinals when he did that. And the Red Sox are just on the outside of the top-10, so he pitched well against them. Does that mean he rises to the occasion or that the timing was just right? That’s the question we’ll likely find out pretty quickly.

Career vs. LAD: First Apparance

August 14 - LHP Tyler Anderson vs. RHP Brady Singer, 1:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Tyler Anderson 21 122.1 13 1 20.1% 5.0% 2.72 4.07 2.6
Brady Singer 18 98.0 5 4 25.1% 5.5% 3.49 3.26 1.7

Tyler Anderson came into 2022 with a 4.62 ERA in his career that included more hits allowed than innings pitched and a career walk rate of 7.1 percent. He’s allowed 98 hits in 122.1 innings with the Dodgers this year and you can see the other numbers above. And he was available to anyone until March 18 when the Dodgers signed him following the lockout. What’s different? His fastball is basically the same except for that that his extension on it last year was 5.9 feet and it’s 6.1 feet this year. That’s a pretty big difference. It hasn’t impacted the perceived velocity much, but it has a little and that’s just a different look. He’s also throwing his changeup more and his cutter less. The staff has helped to refine the changeup some and it’s been a monster of a pitch for him. He’s been a pitcher who can get hit a little bit as he gets through a game. His first 50 pitches, he’s held opponents to a sub-.600 OPS, but after the 50th pitch, he does fall back a bit to look like more of the back end pitcher he’s been throughout his career.

Career vs. KC: 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 0-1, 2.77 ERA

I feel like we’re running out of superlatives for how well Brady Singer has pitched this season. Even when he struggled against the White Sox, his ability to stick it out through six and keep the Royals in the game was praise-worthy. And then he came back and beat that very team in his next start and pitched quite well. This start, though, is a test on the magnitude of facing the Yankees, which you might recall, he pitched outstandingly in as well. Over his last six starts, he’s gone at last six innings in all of them and has a 2.29 ERA in 39.1 innings with 42 strikeouts and just nine walks. Those starts include the Yankees game, a start against the Rays and those last two against a White Sox offense that at least can be good. If he can get through this Dodgers lineup and keep up what he’s been doing, I’m not sure what other questions can even be relevant other than if he can do it next year too.

Career vs. LAD: First Appearance

Royals vs. Dodgers Prediction

I know the Royals have generally looked like a competent and sometimes even a good baseball team and maybe I’m overstating just how good these Dodgers are, but this series feels like it could be a bad time unless Royals starters really step up. I so badly want to predict two of three for KC and be right, but I almost feel optimistic in predicting one out of three. Of course, this Dodgers team has lost two of three on the road at Pittsburgh this year and also lost two of their three road series against the Rockies as well, so they have at last succumbed to a lesser team on the road before, which gives a glimmer of hope.


Can the Royals tame the Dodgers?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Yes they can, they’ll sweep them.
    (11 votes)
  • 13%
    Mostly, they’ll take two of three.
    (37 votes)
  • 50%
    For one game, sure, they’ll take just one.
    (139 votes)
  • 31%
    Not a chance. The Royals look better, but the Dodgers will sweep.
    (87 votes)
274 votes total Vote Now