Los Angeles Dodgers 2024 preview

With the Los Angeles Dodgers opening up the season on March 20 in South Korea against the San Diego Padres, they kick off the NL portion of the 2024 MLB team previews. The truth is that there honestly isn’t all that much to talk about with this team because what happens over the first 162 games of the season isn’t their concern. This is all about getting to the postseason and winning a World Series that doesn’t have an asterisk attached to it.

Personally, I count the 2020 World Series. Sure, the schedule was wonky and it was easily the weirdest season ever, but a short-season sprint like that carries plenty of challenges and the Dodgers had to go through a legitimate set of playoff opponents. None of those teams were fluky participants. 


But, until they win one in a full season, skepticism will rule the roost. And, hey, they’ve done very little to change the narrative with back-to-back NLDS exits and just three NL pennants during this run of dominance in the NL West. They’ve finished first in all but one of the last 11 seasons and have made the postseason in every single one of them. They’ve won at least 100 games in each of the last four full seasons and five of the last six.

For better or worse, you are defined as a team by what you do in October and the Dodgers haven’t done enough. They’ve certainly done enough this offseason to try and rectify that.

2024 Los Angeles Dodgers Odds

(odds from DraftKings as of Mar. 14)

World Series: +350

NL Pennant: +175

NL West: -450

Win Total: 103.5 (+100/-120)

Make Playoffs: Yes -2500 / No +1300

Los Angeles Dodgers Preview: Offense

Look at those odds! Like I said, there isn’t a ton to talk about with the Dodgers. This is the most-stacked roster in baseball and Andrew Friedman continued to get owner Mark Walter and his group to spend money in the quest for a championship. The big-ticket items this offseason were Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

I’ll go on a sidebar rant here because I’m just going to spend the next 1200ish words telling you how great all the players are on the team. Words cannot express how much I hated the Ohtani signing. It’s not that he wound up with the Dodgers. It’s that $68 million of his $70 million salary gets deferred every season so that the Dodgers have more payroll flexibility on an annual basis. There are small degrees of circumvention to the Competitive Balance Tax, MLB’s half-assed attempt at a salary cap, but it is gross to me that the Dodgers will be paying Ohtani until 2043 while other teams are trying to scrape together a roster.

Full disclosure, I’m a Cleveland Guardians fan and their ownership might as well be holding out a cracked Burger King cup on a freeway off ramp compared to some other ownership groups, but this sets a pretty bad precedent with free agency in my opinion. And, look, I fully understand the “your team can do this, too” argument. But imagine 25 or so ownership groups paying out $68 million on July 1 to a guy not even playing for the team anymore like it’s pocket change.

Nobody cries for billionaires. I get it. If you want to be able to compete, step up to the plate financially.

But, this actually shed some light on something that I had overlooked. The Dodgers have been doing this with Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. That allowed the Dodgers to shell out nearly $400 million in the total package for Yamamoto.

So, yeah, it’s World Series or bust on an annual basis for this team and every year but the COVID one has been a bust. Maybe money doesn’t truly buy championships in Major League Baseball, but it gets you into the Tournament of Variance to have a chance.

Anyway, as I stumble backwards off of my soapbox, let’s look at this offense. By wRC+, it was the third-best in baseball last season at 116 and the Dodgers were a very distant second to the Braves in home runs. As great as the starters and the everyday players are, the depth was rather disappointing for the Dodgers last season and that hurt the overall numbers.

Mookie Betts, who will now attempt to play SS because Gavin Lux seemingly can’t, led the way with a 167 wRC+ and 39 HR in 693 PA. Freeman was on his heels with a 163 wRC+ and 29 homers. He also stole 23 bases while batting .331 with a .410 OBP. This year’s lineup will include Ohtani, who won’t pitch because of Tommy John surgery, but slashed .304/.412/.654 with 44 HR in 599 PA. He posted a 180 wRC+ during what was a career year for him.

I guess it seems fitting in Hollywood that the Dodgers have three leading men in the lineup. Everybody else is a supporting actor here. Most of them are pretty good, as Jason Heyward, Will Smith, James Outman, and Max Muncy all posted wRC+ marks of 118 or higher, meaning they were all at least 18% better than league average when their numbers were adjusted for park factor and the league-wide scoring environment.

As good as last year’s lineup was, this one will be better. Obviously Ohtani is a big deal. I think Teoscar Hernandez is a nice bat as well. He’s hit at least 25 homers in each of the last four full seasons and his 105 wRC+ last season was well below what he did in each of the previous three seasons in Toronto. Last season, he maintained elite contact authority, but struck out more than normal and he was quite bad in Seattle, posting just a .217 batting average at home. He’s in a better park now with substantially more protection around him in the lineup.

The defensive questions about Lux are plenty fair, but the hit tool should play. He had a 114 wRC+ in 2022, though he did only hit six homers in 471 PA and carried a .341 BABIP with some iffy contact authority. Projection systems are all over the map on him, but as a No. 9 that could be league average or better, that is an example of the embarrassment of riches here. If he doesn’t perform, there are veterans on the bench and a few other noteworthy prospects like Andy Pages and Trey Sweeney hanging around.

Los Angeles Dodgers Preview: Pitching

The list of starting pitchers for the Dodgers is absurd. They added Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, and James Paxton over the winter to a list that already included Bobby Miller, Gavin Stone, Walker Buehler, Tony Gonsolin, Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, and Emmet Sheehan. It’s an impressive list, but the list of guys available at the start of the season is about half of this.

Gonsolin is out for the season and May won’t return until probably August or September, if he’s able to come back from a couple of different procedures. Sheehan will open the season on the IL with shoulder soreness. Buehler will probably be back in May or so. Kershaw will be a midseason addition as well. So, while it looks like the Dodgers are ridiculously deep with pitching depth, many of these guys are damaged goods as the season begins.

That being said, it would be my dream as a front office executive to look for 100-120 innings from all of my starting pitchers. If we assume five innings over 162 games on the low end, I’m looking for 810 innings. If I can get that from 8-10 guys, then everybody is able to stay sharp and should be able to perform at peak performance, even if injuries do arise. When you look at starters by ERA from last season, March/April was the worst at 4.55, but September/October was right there at 4.54. As guys get tired, they get less effective.

I think Friedman is hoping to be able to go down that road. Paxton is a guy who threw 96 innings last season and hasn’t topped 150 since 2019 with the Yankees. He missed all of 2022 and only had 19 starts last season. He had a 4.50 ERA with a 3.82 xERA and a 4.68 FIP in those 96 innings, but his home park was Fenway and he was in the toughest division.

Miller actually worked 124.1 last year and did the bulk of his work in the second half with 80.1 innings because he missed the early part of April and had to be built up to make his debut. I don’t think they want the soon-to-be 25-year-old going overboard, as he threw about 140 innings last season. He had a 3.76 ERA with a 3.45 xERA and a 3.51 FIP, so I think he’ll be just fine, but he throws triple digits and looks like a long-term arm for the team.

Glasnow is a dude with insane upside, but questionable durability, as his 120 innings last season were the most at the MLB level and he made his debut in 2016. He’s been outstanding for the most part when he’s been out there, but being out there has been the battle. He’s topped 100 innings just twice.

Stone struggled last season in his 31 MLB innings and the PCL was unkind to him at the Triple-A level, as most parks play a lot like Coors Field. There’s still a ton of upside there and he threw 131.2 innings across two levels, but he’s another one that the Dodgers would love to bring along a little bit slowly.

So, while there are a ton of viable arms here, each guy has some kind of flaw, mostly on the durability side. That’s why I am so curious to see what Yamamoto is able to give. The 25-year-old topped out at 193.2 innings in Japan and he’s simply dominated the league over there with a 1.72 ERA over 967.2 career innings. For the most part, he’s stayed really healthy, but he’s also never topped 26 starts in a season. He was actually a reliever earlier in his career, when he was 18 and 19 years old.

The MLB grind is a little bit different, and while Yamamoto is projected for anywhere from 26-29 starts, most Japanese pitchers go on an extra day’s rest compared to MLB pitchers. I will say that a lot of teams have employed six-man rotations and have gone with additional days off with pitchers in the interest of protecting arm health. The Dodgers, when healthy, can do that.

But, Yamamoto is also a smaller-statured right-hander at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. While he’s been durable and his mechanics appear to be excellent, coming to the States is a different kind of beast. From a mental standpoint, at least he has Ohtani and LA obviously has a big Asian population to help him feel a little more comfortable, but it could all be a bit of a whirlwind this season.

The bullpen looks solid here yet again and there are some multi-inning weapons like Ryan Yarbrough and Michael Grove back there. The Dodgers also need to get Brusdar Graterol healthy. But, it’s a good group and the least of my concerns.

Los Angeles Dodgers Player to Watch

SP Tyler Glasnow

I’ve had some buddies whose opinions I respect ask me about Glasnow for NL Cy Young. I really hate the fact that he hasn’t pitched enough in a season yet to do it and turns 31 in August. I will say this, though. The peripherals are spectacular and he can win a lot of games with a lot of strikeouts here. He did experience a big jump in GB% last season and I do wonder about the infield defense of the Dodgers, specifically up the middle. I also wonder about leaving the safety net of Tropicana Field, where he had a 3.04 ERA in 27 career games with a .187/.246/.314 slash and a .246 wOBA against.

Also, let’s be honest – when a team like the Rays gives up on a guy, you wonder why. What’s wrong? What do they know? Sometimes it’s something. Other times, they give up Blake Snell, who just won the NL Cy Young. They’re making a lot of calculated decisions. I think they were worried about Snell’s elbow health and it turns out that he’s been just fine. I think they’re definitely worried about Glasnow’s overall health and the escalating salary. I could see a path to Glasnow being dominant and staying healthier. I could also see another 120 innings of greatness. But, I’m pretty sure he’ll be good for the Dodgers.

Los Angeles Dodgers Season Win Total Odds & Prediction

Turns out I had a lot more to say than I thought. Look, this team is insanely talented. They could win 110 games, they could win 100, they probably won’t win fewer than 95. Recent history tells us they’ll get to triple digits. The floor is very high. I don’t think the ceiling is quite as high as some may make it out to be with all the pitching injuries, but they’ll probably score six runs per game to make up for it.

I typically don’t bet extreme win total highs or lows (A’s Over is an exception this season). I won’t have a bet here either. The division is good, but not great, and they could very easily go out there and dominate their NL West brethren while doing the same to other teams around the  NL. As the odds imply, the Braves are the only team near their level in the NL. I agree with that sentiment. All it takes is an injury or two for this team to not win 104+ games and it may not even take that. This could also be among the greatest regular season teams assembled. I can’t place a bet on that.

Slight Lean: Under 103.5

Get all of our preseason coverage in the 2024 MLB Betting Guide.