We’re less than a month away from Dodgers pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. All the big free agents have signed, and there are no signs of a big trade on the horizon (although that could change at any moment). We’ve basically reached the point in the offseason where we can really start looking ahead to the upcoming season.
In that spirit, it’s time for some bold predictions about the 2023 Dodgers. (And yes, these are going to be mostly optimistic predictions. We know a lot of you aren’t feeling very optimistic right now, and that’s okay.)
1. Clayton Kershaw will start more games than he has since 2015
In 2015, Kershaw started a league-leading 33 games and finished third in the Cy Young voting behind Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke. Remember those guys? Yeah, that seems like forever ago. Anyway, Kershaw hasn’t made more than 28 starts in a season since then, and he’s averaged just 24.3 starts per year.
Kershaw is older than he’s ever been (and now he’s even older), and he’s pitching in the World Baseball Classic this spring, so it might seem crazy to predict he’s going to make at least 29 starts for Los Angeles this year. You call it crazy, I call it bold.
2. The Dodgers will win the NL West fairly easily
It is really bold to say LA, who won the West by 22 games last year, will win it again? Well, Los Angeles mostly sat out the offseason, and people are pretty high on the Padres, who added Xander Bogaerts, Seth Lugo, and Matt Carpenter and will be getting Fernando Tatis Jr. back early in the season along with a full season of Juan Soto.
Here’s the thing, though: Carpenter probably isn’t good anymore, and Lugo has started just 12 games in the last five seasons. Bogaerts is in the 35th percentile in average exit velocity and the 47th percentile in hard hit percentage, and his underlying numbers compared to his actual stats suggest his performance might drop moving to Petco Park. And everyone seems to be assuming Tatis will come back as a world-beater, while Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Cody Bellinger, and countless others would tell you there might be an adjustment period coming back from shoulder surgery.
Throw in the potential for bad defense with several guys playing out of position, and the Padres will probably end up winning around 91-92 games. The Dodgers, meanwhile, will get productive seasons from Noah Syndergaard, JD Martinez, and Miguel Vargas, pushing them a bit higher than their projections to win the division by eight or ten games.
3. Three Dodgers starters will get Cy Young votes
Julio Urias will continue to be outstanding, with an ERA between last year’s league-leading 2.16 and 2021’s 2.96. Kershaw’s will start 29 games with a 2.70 ERA. Both will finish in the top six in Cy Young voting. Meanwhile, one of either Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, or Syndergaard will also get votes, although which one depends on which one stays healthy all year.
4. Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller will be on the postseason roster
Stone will be LA’s fourth starter in the postseason, and Miller will be on the roster as a multi-inning reliever. Both will have made a handful of starts in the big leagues with quite a bit of success, but they’ll go with Stone to start and Miller in relief because their repertoires lean that way.
5. Michael Busch will have some huge hits for Los Angeles
Specifically, Busch will hit a walkoff, two-run home run against the White Sox on Thursday, June 15. Why that day? Because you can’t predict baseball.
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