Los Angeles Dodgers: 3 up, 3 down

first_img3 DOWN1. With five regular position players and three starting pitchers at least 30 years old, injury might be the biggest obstacle between the Dodgers and the World Series. Matt Kemp, who along with Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon represent the only starting-caliber position players under 30, missed 89 games last season and isn’t healthy to begin 2014. Hanley Ramirez, the most potent bat in last season’s lineup missed 76 games and Andre Ethier was injured for the Dodgers’ playoff run.2. Mark Ellis not only represents a loss of veteran leadership along with Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker, he leaves the largest void in the Dodgers starting lineup. Second base is the only unsettled position in the field as the Dodgers enter the season with a platoon approach consisting of Dee Gordon and Justin Turner with Alex Gurrero in Triple-A. Judging by the four-year, $28 million Gurrero signed in the offseason, the 26-year-old Cuban is who the Dodgers would like to emerge.3. Luis Cruz, who opened the 2013 season as the Dodgers starting third baseman, is now playing in Japan. The Dodgers are hoping for better results from the position this season. Juan Uribe, who was beaten out by Cruz last spring, came on so strong enough last season that the 35-year-old will be hard pressed to reproduce numbers along the lines of his 2013 .278 average, 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error 3 UP1. The emergence of Kenley Jansen combined with the return of Brian Wilson from Tommy John surgery last season makes the last two innings a scary place for Dodgers opponents. After Jansen was named closer June 11, he had 26 saves in 29 opportunities and struck out 13 per nine innings. Wilson gave up just one run in 24 appearances. The former Giants closer earned the right to close on another team but chose to sign a one-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers.2. Last season, the Dodgers had arguably the best 1-2 punch in baseball with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top of the rotation. Considering the success of Hyun-Jin Ryu in his rookie season, there may not be another team in baseball with a better trio of starting pitchers. Ryu had a sub-three ERA for all but one of the last five months of the 2013 season, won both his postseason starts and enters this season slimmed down.3. Hanley Ramirez hit for a career-high .345 average last season. The 30-year-old shortstop’s projected numbers, had be not missed 76 games courtesy of two stints on the DL last season, were 38 home runs and 107 RBIs. Last year’s NL MVP, the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen, hit .317 with 21 home runs, 84 RBIs and 27 stolen bases. If Ramirez can stay healthy, he figures to be one of the favorites for the award this season.last_img

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