Five Wild Cards Who Could Determine The Dodgers season

Vincent Samperio-Dodgers Nation
Vincent Samperio-Dodgers Nation

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have no shortage of critically important players, without whom won’t be successful, no matter how big the payroll. If Clayton Kershaw gets hurt or inexplicably loses form, the Blue are damaged. Zack Greinke. Adrian Gonzalez. Yasiel Puig.

These are core players, but also ones who are relatively predictable, at least by the standards of pro sports. Among the newbies, Howie Kendrick is in the same boat. Throw Kenley Jansen in there, too, once he’s back and healthy.

These are their best players, but the Dodgers also have another group of lesser-known quantities who could very well determine where on the bell curve of potential this team lands. Call them Wild Cards. Here are five…

5. Hyun-Jin Ryu

Wild Card players can be categorized in a few different ways. Brett Anderson, because he cost only money (they’ve got plenty) and fills a spot with generally low expectations anyway (fifth starter) is basically all upside.

Joc Pederson is set to play a key role, but the range of potential performance is huge, and each end of the range has a serious impact on team performance. Then there is Ryu. Call him the anti-Anderson.

More than anything, what makes the Dodgers big favorite in the NL West is the quality of their starting pitching, particularly in the top three with Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu. Whether talking stats or health, the first two are about as reliable as anyone using his arm for physiologically irresponsible athletic activity can possibly be.

Ryu… not so much. There’s no question he can get Major League hitters out with regularity. That much he proved over his first two seasons. But he threw 40 fewer innings in 2014 than 2013 thanks to a grab bag of maladies, is working through a bad back this spring, and is shaped like a wang mandu, the traditional Korean dumpling similar to Chinese bao.

Should Ryu falter, the Dodgers could be in trouble, because the two guys behind him (Brandon McCarthy, Anderson) aren’t paragons of health, either.

CONTINUE READING: Four More Wild Cards

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  1. Great list! So much hinges on the success of bullpen this year — that could be a wild card story all on its own.

  2. I agree great list. I am very impressed with some of the BP guys in Spring such as Santos and Tsao. As the catchers together batted about .188 any improvement will help make up the difference between the offense of Kemp, Ramirez and speed of Gordon. I think Kendrick is a huge offensive upgrade. Especially in tight games as he is a tough grind it out line drive hitter. Rollins knows how to work counts and if you watch Pederson he tends to work counts and get on base. So I think with the huge improvement of the defense, much better BP and smarter grind it out hitters we will have a dynamic club this year. This really matters against good clubs and in the playoffs.

    1. You asked about Kemp in Petco…he actually hits great there…Has well over a .300 average there……somebody said to me, well that is against Padre pitching, which really is not that bad…and besides now he hits against all teams there…..he kills Rockies pitchers too. the only question is how will he do vs the Blue..

  3. Kinda scary when two out of five starters are considered “wild cards.” Plus the guy you trade Matt Kemp for? Hmmm…..

  4. We will see during the Season but Grandal has very poor mechanics. He does not catch low balls to his left well and his throws to second are erratic. So he can frame the pitches he can catch but that critical breaking ball in the dirt for a strike? He cannot catch or knock it down. He does hit some line drives but they seem to be at people. So far not impressed.
    Pederson looks good enough and he his very good defensively and has a better arm than I thought. Love Kendrick. McCarthy and Anderson look very solid now if they can just stay healthy….

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