Even Favored Dodgers Have Questions ... and Other Spring Things

dodgers kershaw

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 6:15 PM GMT

Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2018 6:15 PM GMT

We wrap up our Cactus League coverage with a look at the last three teams we covered. Plus, a bonus look at one club from the Grapefruit League that is loved and hated.

MLB: Spring Training Update

Listed below are projections and MLB odds for each team for divisions, the league they play in, World Series considerations (if applicable) and season win totals from 5Dimes.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Projections/odds: First in NL West; best NL odds; third-best World Series odds; O/U 95

Summary: The Dodgers are the defending National League champions who could not overcome a hot Houston lineup in the World Series. Manager Dave Roberts' squad is deserving of all the accolades coming into the season, yet questions remain. Clayton Kershaw is 30 and is coming off two back problems in consecutive years, and the rest of the starting staff is hardly imposing. Losing third baseman Justin Turner for two months does not help to start the season, but at least it's early. Los Angeles still has all the components to win the division and possibly the NL again, but with my MLB picks I'll say they come up just short of the projected win total.

Texas Rangers

Projections/odds: Fifth in AL West; 13th-best AL odds; O/U 76

The days of Texas as an AL West contender are over. And if a couple of veteran players show further slippage, the Rangers could lose 90 games this season. Cole Hamels is 34 and not the pitcher he used to be, and here is what the rest of starting rotation looks like: Martin Perez, Matt Moore, Doug Fister and Mike Minor. The outfield is below average in all aspects. Joey Gallo (41 HRs, 196 Ks) generally goes yard or strikes out, with not much in between. No young player fell further than Roughned Odor, but at least the second baseman is only 24 and could return to 2016 levels. With Hamels all but sure to be traded, the "under" for the win total is the correct choice.

Cincinnati Reds

Projections/odds: Fourth in NL Central; ninth-best NL odds; O/U 74

The Reds have finished last in the NL Central three consecutive years; prior to this stretch, they had not been in the basement since 1983. With Pittsburgh having given up on competing for division titles for the next few years, Cincinnati could reach fourth place. The hope for a better season starts with pitching. The Reds' 2017 ERA ranked 29th, but the entire staff was improving the last two months and there are a number of young lively arms. First baseman Joey Votto is a stud and the outfield is solid with Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, and Scott Schebler. There's an outside shot for an "over" play, but it's probably best to pass.

New York Yankees

Projections/odds: First in AL East; second-best AL odds; second-best World Series odds; O/U 94

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It is easy to think about the Yankees and not buy into the hype. However, credit GM Brian Cashman for rebuilding the minor-league system and stocking the current roster. New York's batting order is loaded, led by 2017 AL rookie of the year Aaron Judge (52 HRs, 114 RBI), and will keep opposing pitchers on edge. CC Sabathia turns 38 and cannot be expected to be 14-5 this season, as he was in 2017, but Sonny Gray can definitely pick up the slack. The bullpen is stacked with quality, so that leaves just one question: Is first-year manager Aaron Boone the right person to lead the Yankees back to the World Series? We will find out and side with the "over."

Cactus League Observations

I saw Justin Turner get his wrist broken by a pitch; that will not be a spot easily replaced for the Dodgers. ... Los Angeles has simplified Alex Wood's delivery. He's simply a drop-and-drive hurler now. ... Witnessed Texas lose to White Sox 10-0. Doug Fister looked like he was throwing batting practice (2 and 1/3 innings, 10 hits, seven runs allowed). The Rangers met all my expectations. ... Like what I saw from Cincy pitcher Terry Mahle. Keeps the ball down, good control and was poised over five shutout innings. Might earn spot in Reds rotation. ... Adam Duvall: three at-bats, three ugly strikeouts.

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