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Know your enemy: Los Angeles Dodgers

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Can the two-time defending league champions make it a three-peat?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers have lost two straight World Series. That’s not optimal.

But, they have been in two straight World Series. Most teams would love to be in that position.

This isn’t to minimize the Dodgers’ situation. They were one loss away from being in the wild-card game last year, which again shows you the randomness of baseball. The Dodgers won their divisional tiebreaker and the Cubs lost theirs and on that, an entire offseason’s worth of angst was based. Cubs fans wrung their hands saying, “Do something!” to management; Dodger fans were content to have their team sign A.J. Pollock to add to an already-crowded outfield.

Another thing the Dodgers will have this year that they didn’t have in 2018: Corey Seager. Seager missed almost all of last year with a UCL sprain that required Tommy John surgery. He’s been taking it slow this spring, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason he wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day.

The Dodgers’ other major change will be behind the plate. Yasmani Grandal left via free agency, so Austin Barnes will be the primary catcher. Barnes had a good year in 2017, but was pretty bad in 2018. He’ll be backed up by Russell Martin, who had his best years in Los Angeles and who was reacquired by the Dodgers over the winter. I had hoped the Cubs would deal for him to back up Willson Contreras. Oh, well.

One question for L.A.’s offense: Is Max Muncy the guy who had a monster season for them and who hit three homers and drew 12 walks in the postseason, or is he the guy the A’s thought so little of that they outright released him?

The Dodgers’ rotation will once again be six or seven deep: Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias are all capable MLB starters. Urias, who is only 22, could be a top starter on a lot of teams. Look for L.A. to use the 10-day injured list as sort of a “taxi squad” to keep their starters rested.

Fun Rich Hill fact: In his rookie year with the Cubs in 2005, among his teammates were: Jeromy Burnitz, Nomar Garciaparra, Greg Maddux, Mark Prior, Mike Remlinger and LaTroy Hawkins.

Kenley Jansen wasn’t quite as dominant in 2018 as he had been in 2017 and he had a second heart surgery over the offseason. He’s expected to be fully recovered for the season.

The new pitch clock, if instituted during the regular season, could have a major effect on setup man Pedro Baez, known as one of the slowest workers on the mound in all of baseball.

The Dodgers have won the N.L. West six years in a row and are strong contenders to make it seven.

The Dodgers will be at Wrigley Field April 23-24-25 and the Cubs visit Dodger Stadium June 13-14-15-16.