The Dodgers were not a surefire bet to win the NL West in 2023, but Los Angeles did after a 100-win campaign. However, the Dodgers’ 2023 season ended on a very sour note after Los Angeles was swept by the Diamondbacks in the NLDS and outscored in the series 19-6. Here’s our recap of the 2023 Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers finished second in several major offensive categories behind the Braves, thanks in large part to Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Both Betts (167 – 4th) and Freeman (163 – 6th) ranked in the top six of the league in wRC+. Betts belted 39 home runs and showcased tremendous versatility in the field, while Freeman hit .331 and posted a 20-20 campaign.
Outfielder James Outman hit 23 home runs in his rookie campaign, while Max Muncy belted 36 home runs and 54 extra-base hits. J.D. Martinez (.893 OPS, 33 HR in 113 G) looked more like the slugger from 2018-19, and Jason Heyward (.813 OPS) put up impressive results in a platoon role.
The Dodgers pitching staff didn’t provide astounding results in 2023, but ace Clayton Kershaw was excellent in the regular season. Kershaw struck out 137 over 131.2 frames and went 13-5 with a 2.46 ERA. Rookie righty Bobby Miller, meanwhile, won 11 games and showcased premier stuff.
As for the bullpen, Dodgers relief pitchers had the third-best cumulative ERA behind the Brewers and Yankees. Evan Phillips and Brusdar Graterol were both excellent, and newcomers Shelby Miller and Ryan Brasier helped solidify a strong overall group of relievers.
The Dodgers’ bats were impressive in the regular season, but Betts and Freeman both went quiet in the NLDS against the Diamondbacks. The duo went 1-21 in the three games in Arizona, as the Dodgers hit just .177/.248/.250 and plated just six runs.
Los Angeles’ pitching, however, proved to be the Dodgers’ most notable weakness.
Forget about Kershaw, who pitched very well in 2023 aside from a horrific Game 1 performance against the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers’ pitching depth was tested for much of the year, as Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin both went down midseason. Left-hander Julio Urias owned a 4.60 ERA before his season ended after a domestic violence arrest and Noah Syndergaard could not regain his old form before he was sent to Cleveland at the Deadline.
The Dodgers did look towards youngsters like Emmet Sheehan and Michael Grove, both of whom showed flashes but were also inconsistent. Not to mention, the Dodgers traded for Lance Lynn at the Trade Deadline — a move that didn’t pay off come October.
What to Look For in 2024
All eyes will be on the Dodgers in free agency, as many expect Los Angeles to at least be a finalist for superstar Shohei Ohtani.
Aside from the Ohtani sweepstakes, we know Los Angeles’ group will look differently next season. Both Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly did not have their club options picked up, while Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, and J.D. Martinez are all free agents. Kershaw will miss at least half of 2024 due to shoulder surgery, while Martinez could be an option should Ohtani not head to Chavez Ravine.
The key to Los Angeles’ success in 2024 will be the pitching. It wasn’t that strong in 2023 as noted, but the Dodgers will get Walker Buehler back. Rotation options for the Dodgers next season include Buehler, Miller, Sheehan, Pepiot, and youngsters Gavin Stone and Michael Grove.