clayton kershaw

Superstar pitcher Clayton Kershaw is part of a loaded starting rotation for the Dodgers this season. The reigning champions are even better this year and are expected to win the title again.

If you assumed the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t get any better after last season’s World Series-winning performance, think again. Even after losing several talented players, this year’s squad is significantly stronger due to some key offseason pickups.

The most crucial addition to the team was the reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, one of the most elite right-handed pitchers in the game. The former Cincinnati Red led the league with an astonishing 1.73 ERA last season and went on to sign a massive deal with the Dodgers for $102 million in the offseason.

The Dodgers are now encountering the problem every other team wishes they had: they have too many elite starting pitchers on their roster. Dodgers legend Clayton Kershaw put up his best ERA since 2016 last season, Walker Buehler has proved his dominance in the postseason and former Boston Red Sox ace David Price will finally join the rotation after opting out last season.

If all of these players stay with the team, it leaves one remaining spot in the rotation — but the Dodgers have three excellent young pitchers who have proved that they deserve to start. Left-handed pitcher Julio Urías has been excellent the past two years for L.A., but up-and-coming right-handed pitchers Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin put up even better ERAs last season.

Some combination of these pitchers will likely move to the bullpen, supposing none of the assumed starting pitchers are traded. Regardless, there is a good argument to be made that the Dodgers have the best starting rotation in MLB, no matter which pitcher fills the final spot.

In addition to the starting rotation, the Dodgers have beefed up their bullpen by adding right-handed pitchers Tommy Kahnle and Corey Knebel, as well as re-signing right-handed pitcher Blake Treinen. Kahnle has a 3.82 career ERA, and while Knebel did not contribute much last year for the Milwaukee Brewers, he posted a 1.78 ERA just a few years ago. Treinen was a large part of the Dodgers’ success last season with a 3.86 ERA, and his return is clutch for this already stacked bullpen.

On the offensive side, L.A. remains one of the most dangerous teams to face. MVP-winning outfielders Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger are arguably the most threatening one-two punch in the league, and the Dodgers re-signed star third baseman Justin Turner to a two-year deal last week.

Of course, the offseason wasn’t without some heartbreaking farewells to fan-favorite players. The Dodgers traded utility player Kike Hernández to the Boston Red Sox, and left fielder Joc Pederson signed with the Chicago Cubs. These are certainly tough losses for L.A., but the players they’ve acquired will more than make up for it.

With a superstar team becoming even better, there is enormous pressure for the Dodgers to repeat as champions. They have the highest payroll in the league by a huge margin, so the fans and ownership expect nothing less than another title this year.

Nevertheless, one thing is certain: the Dodgers are the most dominant team in Major League Baseball right now. It’s rare to see true dynasties in this league, but L.A. is putting together a team that could win many more titles down the road.

This is the opinion of Ellie Kinney, a junior communication studies major from Boston, Massachusetts. Tweet comments to @LAloyolan or email comments to ahutton@theloyolan.com.

Asst. Sports Editor

Ellie is a communication studies major and history minor from Boston, Massachusetts. She's a diehard Boston sports fan, loves street tacos more than people and has a pet parakeet. IG/Twitter: @emkinney4

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