Is Kenley Jansen experiencing fatigue from the last 5 years of use, or is April truly Spring Training for him?
-- Albert Villanueva @insuRestaurants
Let's assume closer Kenley Jansen is healthy, as he says, which I do, after being around him since he was a rookie.
Let's also assume there's a good reason why pitchers have needed six weeks of Spring Training for the last century. I know, old-fashioned thinking, but stay with me. Jansen didn't have a real Spring Training. The intentions were pure, but management let him take it easy so he will be around at the finish (in the process, he tweaked a hamstring).
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Hopefully, Jansen will be around at the finish, but he wasn't ready at the start. Joe Panik and Chris Owings had their full Spring Trainings and they were ready. Doesn't mean Jansen won't become Jansen again this year, he just wasn't Jansen the first week of the season. And as Dave Roberts said, when your closer has a bad day, you lose.
That's why, IMO, Jansen was the club MVP last year. And if he isn't the Jansen of last year, the Dodgers aren't the Dodgers of last year.
Will Walker Buehler or Julio Urias play? Will they be good?
It's unfair to pair them. Management is counting on Buehler to be in the starting rotation at some point this season, and well into the future. He was dominant the few times the club took the wraps off him in Arizona, the same way Clayton Kershaw was dominant in his first Spring Training games as a rookie.
Urias, though, is coming off surgery. Management can only hope he continues his shoulder rehab without a setback. Shoulder operations are tricky, as Hyun-Jin Ryu's two-year comeback proves. Urias' shoulder is younger, was less damaged and he's had no discomfort (except for this week's tonsillectomy) to slow him down. He should return this summer in some form, but he hasn't pitched off a mound yet, so he still has hurdles to clear.
Have they considered playing Hernandez every day?
-- Roy Tapia @rtapia24
Enrique Hernandez's improvement in hitting off right-handed pitching has been dramatic and makes an increased role logical. Up until now, he's been a victim of his versatility and success against left-handed pitching, providing flexibility for manager Dave Roberts. But John Forsythe's slow offensive start, after a disappointing offensive season in 2017, could find the two players switching roles as the primary second baseman when Justin Turner's wrist heals and he returns to third base.
When is JT coming back?
-- Erik @qwizzy02
Turner remained at Camelback Ranch-Glendale when the Dodgers left Phoenix Wednesday night. He's not wearing the brace on his fractured left wrist and manager Dave Roberts said Turner is expected to be cleared for batting at the three-week mark from the time of the injury, which will be on Monday. The conservative prognosis for a Turner return is six weeks from the injury, which would be April 30. Turner has been known to play hurt, so maybe that date moves up a bit. But realistically, the Dodgers will be without him this month.
How worried are you about the Dodgers' cold start?
-- Nairb @iRTlikecrazy
It's April 5. The Dodgers started 10-12 last year and won 104 games. For that to happen, though, Chris Taylor came out of the Minor Leagues to be a star and Cody Bellinger came out of the Minor Leagues to be Rookie of the Year. It often takes unexpected breakthroughs for a club to overachieve.
Maybe Hernandez and Buehler will be this year's breakthroughs. Regardless, opposing teams don't care how many games the Dodgers won last year, and the Dodgers might as well forget about 2017 successes, too. They mean nothing now. The rest of the division improved and the Dodgers stood pat during the winter, so 2018 figures to be a tougher task.
If Alvin Toles was recalled, who would be sent down?
-- Lesley Goldberg @Snoodit
If everyone is healthy, it's extremely unlikely that Toles and Joc Pederson would be on the same roster because both bat left-handed. One disclaimer is that Pederson has center field experience in the Major Leagues, while Toles is considered a corner outfielder. Another disclaimer is that if Matt Kemp is no longer with the club, the outfield dynamics reset. As long as Turner is sidelined, though, the Dodgers don't have enough right-handed bats without Kemp in the lineup.