Los Angeles Dodgers 2024 Season Preview

With the star power they added this offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers enter the 2024 MLB season as the prohibitive favorites to win it all.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 16: (L-R) Interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani #17, Mookie Betts #50 and Freddie Freeman #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers talk during a press conference ahead of the MLB Seoul Series at Gocheok Sky Dome on March 16, 2024 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)

The best team on paper heading into the season hasn’t won the World Series since the New York Yankees dynasty of the late 1990’s. While the Los Angeles Dodgers may not have fate on their side for bucking this trend, they do have the greatest assemblage of superstars we have ever seen.

The Dodgers went 100-62 in 2023 despite countless injuries to the starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts reached the century mark for the third consecutive year, but Los Angeles was bounced from the postseason in their first series for a second-straight October.

Regardless of their regular season success, the denizens of Chavez Ravine failed to punch a ticket to the Fall Classic for the third consecutive campaign.

Enter Shohei Ohtani. The Japanese superstar traveled 30 miles north to sign with the Dodgers and ensure his first appearance in the playoffs since joining Major League Baseball in 2018.

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He won’t pitch in 2024, but hitting alongside Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman for 600 plate appearances, will still provide plenty of fireworks as he attempts to become only the second player to win the MVP Award in both leagues.

Enter Yoshinobu Yamamoto as well. And Tyler Glasnow and Teoscar Hernández. Plus a cadre of players re-upping to return to L.A. — Clayton Kershaw, Jason Heyward, Joe Kelly, Kiké Hernández, Ryan Brasier — in hopes of earning the franchise’s first full-season championship ring since 1988.

Offseason spending was well over $1 billion. Sure, a lot more jerseys and memorabilia will be sold because of these transactions. The ultimate pursuit: not just winning the regular season, but winning four games in the World Series.

Projected Lineups

1. Mookie Betts – SS1. Mookie Betts – 2B
2. Shohei Ohtani – DH2. Shohei Ohtani – DH 
3. Freddie Freeman – 1B3. Freddie Freeman – 1B
4. Will Smith – C4. Will Smith – C
5. Max Muncy – 3B5. Teoscar Hernández – RF
6. Teoscar Hernández – LF6. Max Muncy – 3B
7. James Outman – CF7. Chris Taylor – LF
8. Jason Heyward – RF8. James Outman – CF
9. Gavin Lux – 2B9. Miguel Rojas – SS

A trifecta of former MVPs atop the lineup will create problems for every team. Together, they can be even greater than the sum of their parts.

Last year marked only the third time since moving to California that the franchise had multiple players reach the 35-homer mark. Freeman, who’s averaged 31 home runs per season since 2016 with a low of 21 and a high of 38 for a 162-game season, might be the last to join the club in 2024.

For now, the two left-handed hitters will go back-to-back in the lineup with Betts leading off. Ohtani has batted first before with the Angels and it would not be surprising to see him there in order to provide some separation from Freeman. Any way Roberts and his staff decide to slice it, Ohtani will benefit greatly with a much more talented lineup around him than what he’s experienced in the past.

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The Dodgers were already the second-best run-scoring offense in 2023. Though All-Star J.D. Martínez and his 33 home runs left in free agency, Ohtani is still a significant upgrade. David Peralta has been swapped for Teoscar Hernández and former top prospect Gavin Lux is back from a torn ACL that wiped away all of last season.

Defensive stalwart Miguel Rojas made a bulk of the starts at shortstop in ‘23 following the injury to Lux last spring. Chris Taylor lead a cast of middle infielders who held down the fort the rest of the way. The return of Lux was supposed to be the club’s answer at shortstop after an offseason of speculation about acquiring Willy Adames from the Milwaukee Brewers.

However, the position is still in flux.

The plug was pulled on Lux after six Cactus Leagues games. He moved back to second base where he was stationed when Corey Seager and Trea Turner occupied shortstop. The new solution: Betts.

The situation is fine for the time being, but when the Dodgers pivot to Plan C at some point, there will be options: acquiring a shortstop via trade, moving Lux back to shortstop once throwing issues are no longer factor, sticking with Rojas again for a bulk of starts (this might be the best option again with below average defense on the left side from third baseman Max Muncy) or allowing prospect Trey Sweeney to take over should he begin to excel at Triple-A. 

Projected Bench

Austin Barnes, Kiké Hernández, Miguel Rojas, Chris Taylor

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This veteran group of players will allow Roberts to mix and match as much as possible, especially late in games. Rojas may end up with 100-plus starts at shortstop while the two super-utility players in Hernández and Taylor will feature at just about every position other than catcher. Barnes will don the tools of ignorance for his 10th season with the Dodgers in 2024, making his the second-longest tenured member of the roster behind only Clayton Kershaw.

Miguel Vargas is also expected to contribute off the bench at some point in the year. The 24-year-old spent much of last season at second base with L.A. before being optioned to the minors on July 9 for the remainder of the season. Though he played more third base during that time with the OKC Dodgers, he went to camp at Camelback Ranch this spring to play outfield full-time.

Projected Starting Rotation

projected starting rotationrotation depth
1. RHP Tyler GlasnowRHP Walker Buehler*
2. RHP Yoshinobu YamamotoLHP Clayton Kershaw*
3. RHP Bobby MillerRHP Dustin May*
4. LHP James PaxtonRHP Emmett Sheehan*
5. RHP Gavin StoneRHP Nick Frasso*

Los Angeles needed a club record 39 pitchers to get through the regular season and this year may end up being no different. The 17 starters they used was third-most in the franchise’s 140 seasons and tied for the most with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2023 amongst the 12 postseason teams. 

Considering it’s the second time in the past three years the team needed to use that many starting pitcher, President of Baseball Operation Andrew Friedman addressed the situation this offseason by signing or trading for an entire rotation. However, the Dodgers begin the season with the same problem despite the addition of these five starters.

Glasnow and Yamamoto are ready for the season a week early, partially because they need to be for the two-game Seoul Series on March 20-21. Glasnow’s objective is to prove he can stay healthy for more than 120 innings while Yamamoto enters MLB with the highest expectations of any pitcher before having never thrown even a single pitch in the minors.

James Paxton is behind schedule after watching his one-year, $11 million deal become $7 million guaranteed after an unspecified concern turned up in the medicals. Clayton Kershaw won’t return from offseason shoulder surgery until sometime in July and Ohtani won’t be on a mound for L.A. until 2025.

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There’s still depth with Walker Buehler, Emmett Sheehan and Nick Frasso all set to make an impact at some point, but injuries have ultimately curtailed their spring. Bobby Miller will be relied upon after a breakout freshman campaign that would have come with some NL Rookie of the Year Award attention had the class not been so strong and had he debuted earlier than May 23.

Tony Gonsolin won’t be back following Tommy John surgery last September, but there’s hope Dustin May can return in the second half after elbow surgery in July.

Gavin Stone and Michael Grove, not to mention reliever Ryan Yarbrough, prospect Landon Knack and any number of arms at Triple-A Oklahoma City could be relied upon early for starts before Kershaw and the cavalry return for the final regular season push. 

Projected Bullpen

projected bullpendepth
RHP Evan Phillips – CloserRHP Brusdar Graterol*
RHP Joe Kelly – 8thRHP Blake Treinan*
RHP Ryan Brasier – 7thRHP Gus Varland
LHP Alex VesiaRHP J.P. Feyereisen
RHP Kyle HurtLHP Matt Gage
RHP Daniel HudsonRHP Nabil Crismatt
RHP Ryan YarboroughRHP Ricky Vanasco
RHP Michael Grove – Long Reliever

One of the best bullpens in the game is looking solid once again. Kelly, Brasier and Daniel Hudson return to set up closer Evan Phillips. Alex Vesia may be the lone lefty to start the season, but Matt Gage is waiting in the wings as the next under-the-radar reclamation project to impress for the organization.

Six of their projected eight relievers to open the season are without minor league options, so Los Angeles will have to be creative in keeping arms fresh.

With MLB sending a message to all 30 teams by placing former New York Mets GM Billy Eppler on the ineligible list for 2024 following an investigation that uncovered improper use of the injured list, clubs will need to navigate bullpen usage more legitimately than ever.

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Prospects to Watch

position playerspitchers
C Diego CartayaRHP Nick Frasso
C Dalton RushingRHP River Ryan
OF Andy PagesRHP Kyle Hurt
OF Josue De PaulaLHP Jackson Ferris

The catching situation in the minors for the Dodgers will be interesting to watch as Will Smith enters the season just 18-months away from free agency.

The next step for Friedman and the front office may be dictated on whether Diego Cartaya rebounds from a disastrous year at the plate with Double-A Tulsa or top overall prospect Dalton Rushing can improve across the board with his defense.

Josue De Paula impressed as an 18-year-old with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, batting .284 with a .396 on-base percentage against players mostly age-21 and older. Another offseason of training in the states coupled with adding healthy weight should help the power numbers develop. He’s a strong candidate to move onto top 100 lists over the next 12 months.

Had Andy Pages not torn the labrum in his left shoulder in May, it seems he certainly would have debuted in the Majors by now. The 23-year-old from Cuba has slugged at every stop of the minors.

From 19 home runs at age-18 at short-season Ogden to securing the Midwest League MVP with 31 dingers and then 26 homers at Double-A in 2022, good for third-most in the Texas League. With Jason Heyward and Teoscar Hernández on one-year deals, Los Angeles will want to give Pages every opportunity to become part of their 2025 outfield.

On the pitching side, the Dodgers are ripe with hurlers. All four of their pitching prospects to watch came via shrewd trades for expendable pieces. Friedman managed to turn Mitch White, Matt Beaty and Dylan Floro into Nick Frasso, River Ryan and Kyle Hurt.

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He and GM Brandon Gomes did it again this offseason by dealing Yency Almonte (without minor league options) and Michael Busch (without a place to play) to the Chicago Cubs for Zyhir Hope and Jackson Ferris, both of who immediately went onto the MLB Pipeline top 30 list for Los Angeles.

Ferris, a 6’4” left-hander, has drawn comparisons to Blake Snell. The two had a nearly identical strikeout-to-walk ratio for 2023 with the younger southpaw posting the higher K/9 rate (12.3 to 11.7). The three right-handers are all viewed as starting pitchers and should begin the year in Triple-A as they wait for an inevitable injury to the varsity rotation. 

Above all else, it’s worth watching these players’ development in 2024 since any number can be utilized as trade assets for improving the big league club. 

2024 Outlook

Roberts is the quickest manager in the history of the sport to win 100 games five times. One more and he’ll tie Hall of Famers Bobby Cox and Joe McCarthy for most all-time. Despite this success, Roberts has only one World Series ring to show for it. And it came during the pandemic-shortened season of 2020. 

Wining their 11th NL West pennant in the last 12 years is inevitable. But the spectacle surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers will not make the quest any easier to win 100-plus games or conquer the Fall Classic.

Whether traveling by private jet to Korea or chartering a bus to any number of North American cities, the caravan will display one message throughout their journey this season:

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2024 World Series or Bust.