After a relatively quiet offseason from the Los Angeles Dodgers, expectations were tempered heading into 2023 during what is somewhat of a transition period for the franchise, and it may have them feeling like David Bowie — Under Pressure.
Although the Dodgers are still considered one of the superior teams in Major League Baseball, they now have a contender for the top spot in the National League West with the San Diego Padres, and they feature a revamped roster after letting Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney leave in free agency.
For the first time in recent memory, the Dodgers are not the easy favorites in their own division, let alone the NL or MLB. And so far, the results haven’t been ideal 10 games into the season.
The Dodgers are 5-5 after losing five of eight games to the Arizona Diamondbacks, which matched Arizona’s win total against L.A. during all of the 2022 season.
D-Backs infielder Josh Rojas noticed something else about their rivals besides the new look roster: it finally felt like they could get pressure on the perennial juggernauts, via Steve Gilbert of MLB.com:
“I think the biggest thing is we were putting the pressure on,” said Josh Rojas, who had three hits. “I felt like it was the first time I’ve ever played the Dodgers where it felt like they could feel the pressure.”
The Dodgers are relying on young players and new faces at multiple positions this year, with rookies Miguel Vargas and James Outman earning starting roles; Miguel Rojas, David Peralta and Jason Heyward filling in key roles; and Max Muncy playing full-time at third base.
The Dodgers pitching staff is also betting on Noah Syndergaard and Michael Grove for the backend of their rotation, and the bullpen lacks a set closer for the first time in years, with the role now being filled by Evan Phillips for most of the save opportunities.
L.A. is betting on a lot of things to go right to reach their full potential, and so far multiple things have already gone wrong with injuries to Gavin Lux, Tony Gonsolin, Ryan Pepiot, Daniel Hudson and Jimmy Nelson.
At the end of the season, the Dodgers are likely going to hold a playoff spot, but they are no longer the team that can cruise through their opponents.
Dodgers prioritized ‘whole season’ with Miguel Rojas’ injury
Rojas was out of the Dodgers lineup for six consecutive games while dealing with a left groin injury he suffered while turning an unassisted double play during the series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 2.
The Dodgers hoped Rojas would return to the lineup on Friday, but they continued to hold him out through Saturday’s game at Chase Field before he returned on Sunday, April 9.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts indicated Rojas would have been able to play in different circumstances, but they wanted to be cautious with their starting shortstop before he returned for the series finale.
Rojas also acknowledged he’s been ready to play, but he and the Dodgers decided it would be best to take the long approach to better ensure full health.
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