The 2020 Major League Baseball season will be unlikely any other due to challenges created by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Of course, one of the more obvious changes is the season being cut from 162 regular-seasons games to only 60.
There will be a season though, which is good news for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have one of the best rosters in all of baseball and will take the field with the same World Series aspirations.
The Dodgers will be going for an eighth consecutive National League West title, and a big reason for that success has been their roster depth. Over the course of a 162-game season, have quality players to account for injuries is a significant positive for any team.
Despite conventional wisdom suggesting that won’t be as much of a factor in a truncated season, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts believes his club’s depth nonetheless remains extremely beneficial, particularly with the NL adopting the designated hitter.
“The DH, that just allows us to tap into our depth on the position-player side. There’s still as each game moves on, we have a bench that is more than capable to take on a certain matchup that is beneficial,” Roberts said on a conference call.
“On the pitching side, we just don’t know where guys are going to be built up. So to be able to tap into the depth on that side of things, make sense. We’ve always talked about the depth of the Dodgers over 162 (games), but I think our depth is just as important in a 60-game sprint.”
With the potential for injuries and not as much time to recover, depth can end up being more important in a 60-game season for a team like the Dodgers. “I think it’s all relative and we’re going to be playing the same number of games as our competitors,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman added.
“We do feel like the depth will help us throughout the season and also in the beginning when we have 30 guys. Just how little we will lose night to night if something pops up with an injury or some fatigue. I think the most important thing — and we couldn’t feel more confident about it — is our players’ mindset.
“We’ve seen it over the last couple years, so much of the culture change has happened under Doc and the coaches, is how focused and committed our players are to winning that night, that pitch, that at-bat. I think that’s not going to be any different, and to the extent of our talent and that mindset, we feel really good about what’s possible.”
MLB has also decided to expand active rosters to 30 players to begin the season, so L.A. will have more spots available for their fringe players that would easily make normal 26-man rosters in other organizations.
With a three-week Spring Training 2.0 that can potentially lead to minor injuries, Friedman noted that having the extra roster spots will help account for that.
“Part of it that will definitely change is the fact that we’ll have 30 guys to start, so that will add four additional players,” he said. “In Spring Training, those last couple of weeks, we weren’t sure if Joc was going to be ready for Opening Day. Now we’re in a pretty good spot with all of our guys.
“I’m sure it’ll change a little bit, but also so much of it will come from where our starters are as we get going. How built up they are to kind of figure out the interplay of how many pitchers versus position players. We’ll take the next three or four weeks to wrap our arms around it and try to put together the best 30-man roster we can.”
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