Los Angeles Dodgers 60-Game Report: First in the West
May 20, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) is greeted by third base coach Dino Ebel (91) as he rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam home run in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Teams gain a clearer sense of their standings as the 2024 Major League Baseball (MLB) season progresses. The Los Angeles Dodgers, 60 games into the season, boast an impressive 33-17 record, placing them firmly atop the National League West, eight games better than the San Diego Padres and with the second-best record in the National League.

The Dodgers have overcome a challenging start to ascend to the top in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings. Their dominance was showcased early in May with series sweeps against the Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins. The Dodgers did drop two of three to the rival San Diego Padres but got back on the winning track by taking two of three against the San Francisco Giants and three of four at home against the Cincinnati Reds.

For a roster plagued by injuries, particularly within the pitching staff, the Dodgers have demonstrated resilience and depth, solidifying their status as a formidable force.

The additions of Teoscar Hernandez and Shohei Ohtani have significantly boosted the team’s offensive performance. Ohtani, in particular, batting behind leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, has given the Dodgers arguably the best one-two at the top of the order in baseball.

MVP and Cy Young Contenders

Mookie Betts (+155) and Shohei Ohtani (+300) are at the forefront of the National League MVP race. Betts, a perennial favorite with odds at +155, has been a standout performer. Meanwhile, after beating out Betts and Freddie Freeman, last year’s MVP, Ronald Acuña Jr., has seen his odds lengthen to +2000.

Ohtani’s first season with the Dodgers has been nothing short of spectacular. As of May 20, he leads both leagues with a .353 batting average and a 1.080 WAR, has the most hits (66), and is fourth in home runs (13). These achievements are even more impressive, considering Ohtani is taking a year off from pitching to recover from an elbow ligament injury. Betts also performs at an elite level, batting .337 with a 0.988 WAR and eight home runs.

Ohtani’s surge from +1400 odds in mid-April to a top MVP contender underscores his remarkable impact.

The Dodgers also boast two Cy Young candidates: Tyler Glasnow and rookie sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Glasnow, despite recent back-to-back losses, maintains a strong record of 6-2 with a 2.90 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 62 innings. Despite overcoming a rough start in Seoul, Yamamoto has settled into a groove, posting a 5-1 record with a 3.21 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 54.2 innings.

Pitching Staff Dynamics

With Glasnow and Yamamoto at the top of their rotation, the Dodgers can compete with anyone. And now, with Walker Buehler back in form and joining Gavin Stone, James Paxson, and Landon Knack, Los Angeles will be six deep with quality starters. The bullpen also got a shot in the arm with the return of 8th-inning specialist Blake Treinen, who, along with Alex Vesia, Michael Grove, Ryan Yarbrough, and closer Daniel Hudson, ranks third in baseball with a 3.14 ERA, which is also best in the National League.

While still finding its rhythm, the Dodgers’ pitching staff has not shown their full potential, but they’re getting closer. Clayton Kershaw (60-day IL) threw a bullpen session on Saturday, as did reliever Evan Phillips (15-day IL) and starter Bobby Miller (15-day IL). Phillips is likely the closest to returning. Lost for the season is Emmet Sheehan, who underwent Tommy John surgery last week, and Tony Gonsolin.  Relievers Joe Kelly and Ryan Brasier are also both on the IL.

Emerging Talent and Depth

Beyond their star players, the Dodgers’ farm system continues to produce high-caliber talent. Outfielder Andy Pages has emerged as a notable addition, quickly making a significant impact. This depth ensures that the Dodgers remain competitive and resilient, capable of overcoming injuries and maintaining their high level of play.

Former MVP Freddie Freeman, catcher Will Smith, infielder Max Muncy, and outfielder Teoscar Hernandez make for a murderer’s row in the middle of the lineup, allowing Los Angeles to rotate in role players such as Miguel Rojas, Kike Hernandez, Jason Heyward, Chris Taylor, and Austin Barnes.

Rookie of the Year Chase

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a storied history of developing top-tier talent through their homegrown pipeline, with stars like Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger setting the standard. Andy Pages is making a solid case to join this distinguished list.

Baseball America ranked the 23-year-old Pages as the No. 3 prospect in the Dodgers system and the No. 83 prospect in baseball at the start of the year. This ranking was well-deserved, given his impressive minor league performance, highlighted by a 31-home run season at High-A in 2021.

Pages has started his Major League career on a high note. Batting in the middle of the Dodgers lineup, he’s averaged .256 with five home runs and 16 RBIs while playing center field. It remains to be seen whether Pages can maintain these impressive numbers. However, the Dodgers are on track for another strong season, potentially securing a postseason berth and aiming to repeat their 2020 World Series triumph.

National League and World Series Odds

According to odds available from top Canadian online betting sites, Los Angeles is the favorite to win the National League pennant, with betting lines ranging from +135 to +165. The odds for the World Series are between +300 and +400, making them the top contenders ahead of other teams like the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Orioles, and the New York Yankees.