For the first time in franchise history, the Los Angeles Dodgers won a third consecutive National League West division title. That coincided with a third straight 90-plus win season, which was a first since 1976-78.
While the regular-season success didn’t exactly carry over into the playoffs, with the Dodgers suffering another first-round exit, their achievements shouldn’t be overlooked when considering the various hurdles they faced.
Among them were Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu undergoing season-ending surgeries, and hamstring strains limiting Yasiel Puig to just 79 games.
Ryu is expected to return by Opening Day 2016 and is someone Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman views as a wild card, according to Pedro Moura of the OC Register:
Andrew Friedman called LHP Hyun-jin Ryu a "big wild card" for '16. Ryu is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his L shoulder.
— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) November 9, 2015
Friedman proceeded to share the same view on Yasmani Grandal, Joc Pederson and Puig, via Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
Friedman called Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal "three big wild cards heading into 2016 season." Expects them to be part of club
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) November 9, 2015
Ryu’s torn labrum was an injury he not only pitched with, but pitched well, in 2013 and 2014. He’s a combined 28-15 with a 3.17 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in two seasons with the Dodgers.
Ryu’s importance to the staff could very well get magnified dependent on what transpires with Zack Greinke’s free agency and the Dodgers’ pursuit of starting pitching.
Pederson won the starting center field job and jumped out to a tremendous first half. However, he struggled after the All-Star break and subsequently lost the job to Kiké Hernandez.
Pederson finished the year batting .210/.346/.417 with 26 home runs, 54 RBIs, 170 strikeouts, 92 walks, a .335 wOBA and 115 wRC+ in 151 games.
Like Pederson, Grandal too had a strong showing prior to the All-Star Game. He was slowed from August forward due to a left shoulder issue that required surgery once the season came to an end.
Grandal nonetheless hit .234/.353/.403 with 16 home runs, 47 RBIs, a .335 wOBA and 115 wRC+. Both Grandal and Pederson were named to their first All-Star Game last season.
Puig looks to return to the form he showed during his rookie season and in 2014, during which he played in over 100 games each year. Friedman added he believes Puig will benefit from altering his body frame in effort to play in a minimum of 150 games next season.