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.” — Yogi BerraOften Eddie Rosario Jersey , baseball players know they will again be lucky if they wear the same thing or do the same habit. In the second series of last season, the D-backs played the Dodgers.I wrote that series preview and the D-backs swept the Dodgers.As I write this series preview, luck flows like Hawaiian lava from my keyboard. “That’s what I always tell people: get there. It’s not always the best team that wins it.” — Dave McKay interview by Jack Sommers of AZ Snake PitThis season is different because the D-backs are considered underdogs. Don’t despair. The bar for series success is lower!In this 4-game series, one D-back win would be good, and two D-back wins would be awesome and lucky!A series win would be a major upset and it would feel like winning the lottery! Let’s look at this season’s Dodgers.Who Are Core Dodgers Players?Returning from last season are five core players.Three of these five core players are bouncing back from injuries.In late February, starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw experienced some shoulder soreness/inflamation.Although it seems an MRI was not done, he will start this season on the injured list after 8 consecutive seasons as opening day starter.Shortstop Corey Seager had Tommy John surgery in May and hip surgery in August.On 20 March, he first appeared in a spring training game - likely he will not be at 100% on opening day.In November, closer Kenley Jansen had another heart procedure to control his atrial fibrillation.This off-season he lost 25 pounds.Has his pitching effectiveness been impacted?“I want to take care of my heart. I don’t want to do another surgery...” — Kenley JansenTwo outfielders were added to the core.Former D-back and oft-injured AJ Pollock went to the Dodgers in free agency.In the last three seasons, he played in 49% of the games.This season, can he avoid injury? Top-100 prospect Alex Verdugo, is projected to start the season in the Majors (for his first time), after two seasons totaling 111 plate appearances, mostly in September.Watching a success story unfold feels great!2019 Core DodgersPlayerPositionAgeFA YearAwardsStatsPlayerPositionAgeFA YearAwardsStatsSource:Baseball ReferenceWhat have the Dodgers given up on? Something old is a good luck charm at weddings.So why did the Dodgers give up on two of their three oldest position players?Chase Utley.He is now 40 years old.My related thought is Bartolo Colon, who continues to pitch at age 45.Utley was a free agent and retired.Matt Kemp.He is now 34 years old.In December, he was traded to the Reds.In last year’s off-season, the Dodgers re-acquired Kemp.He arrived at spring training in great shape.In a reversal, in this off-season the Dodgers re-lost Kemp.Perhaps their ‘something old’ luck was restored when they re-acquired catcher Russell Martin, now 36 years old.He replaced the younger Yasmany Grandal, lost to free agency.In 2008 Gandal led the Majors in pitch framing (15.7 runs per Baseball Prospectus) and had an OPS+ of 120.Prime Rib:Bryce Harper. The Dodgers flailed and failed to acquire him. The Dodgers aggressively pursued signing Bryce Harper. Andrew Friedman, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations, said if a personnel move (like signing a free agent) makes sense, “...we’ll be aggressive鈥?#8221;Friedman, with Dave Roberts (manager) and Stan Kasten (CEO) traveled to Las Vegas to negotiate with Harper and agent Scott Boras.It seems that they discussed deals with a higher average annual value than the Phillies and the Giants (which was the team with the best fit).To pursue Harper, the Dodgers risked strategic goals. The Dodgers made significant trades to keep under the luxury tax threshold – a strategic goal they put at-risk.Another strategic goal is having depth in every position – Harper is projected to play corner outfield where the Dodgers have great depth.And Bellinger who plays first base is expected to play right field. In a move with better strategic fit, the Dodgers acquired AJ Pollock, who plays Center Field. Great GM Cooking.Is it true that too many cooks spoil the broth? GM Farhan Zaidi went to the Giants. The Dodgers did not replace him, instead splitting the role between Brandon Gomes (director of player development), Alex Slater (Director of Baseball Operations), and Josh Byrnes (senior VP of baseball operations). The results could leave the fans wanting a better cook.Dairy.About half of the Dodgers gave up dairy.Corey Seager said his face has lost it’s puff and he purchased new clothes because he lost weight. Kenley Jansen started drinking milks from coconut and almond; he lost weight.For details see this article in the Athletic.Looking AheadInterestingly Robbie Grossman Jersey , in each of the last two seasons, the D-backs had the same regular-season results against the Dodgers, winning 11 of their 19 games. The D-backs have remade their team.How well they play is a wild card.Luck will make a difference. Who will pitch in this series?Thursday. Hyun-Jin Ryu (198 ERA+, 9.7 SO/9, 1.6 BB/9) vs Zack Greinke (135 ERA+, 8.6 SO/9, 1.9 BB/9) (statistics from 2018 season)In 2018, Hyun-JIn Ryu had the best ERA of all the starting Dodger pitchers.Although Kershaw is the traditional opening day starter, he has a sore shoulder.For those two reasons, Ryu is the opening day starter!Zack Greinke is Mr. Consistency.As usual, he started spring training slow, but has now caught-up.Not much more needs to be said.In spring training, Brooks Baseball wrote that he threw one slow curve that was “a real yakker that’s separated from his other curveball due to its big drop and slow speed.” Friday.Ross Stripling (128 ERA+, 10.0 SO/9, 1.6 BB/9) vs Robbie Ray (110 ERA+, 12.0 SO/9, 5.1 BB/9) Ross Stripling pitched extraordinarily well in May 2018.His performance was the 11th best month by any pitcher from 2002 to 2018 wrote Jeff Sullivan, FanGraphs.He pitched 30 innings with an ERA of 1.20 and a FIP of 1.21.For the full season with runners in scoring position, “Stripling was able to have the second highest strand rate in baseball at 86.1% (min. 120 innings), trailing only the AL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell.” — Jack DorfmanHowever, Stripling’s pitching was worse after 22 July (ERA 6.41), and the Dodgers did not place him on their post-season rosters.How will he do this season?Although spring training is not predictive, his ERA was less than 3. Last Season, Robbie Ray strained his oblique muscle.His mechanics may have been off before and after his injury (based on his ERA of 4.88 before and 4.93 in the ten games after).Then he changed his mechanics;His ERA improved to 2.09 in his final 7 starts.“This year, he’s a different guy. His stuff [Robbie Ray] is really standing out, it’s coming out hot and I know he worked hard to make that happen. So we’re looking for him to have a big year.” — Torey Lovullo Saturday. Kenta Maeda (102 ERA+, 11.0 SO/9, 3.1 BB/9) vs Zack Godley (91 ERA+, 9.3 SO/9, 4.1 BB/9)Maeda has two elite secondary pitches and has been a top-20 starter by SIERA since his debut (Source: Alex Chamberlain).In 2018 Kyle Gibson Jersey , he started 20 games through 10 August. He changed to a relief pitcher, normally pitching about 1 inning.This season, he returns as a starter.Zack Godley has a mighty curve.That AZ Snake Pit article talked about three success factors:first pitch strike onethe right mix of pitchesconfident throwing to the basesSunday. Walker Buehler (148 ERA+, 9.9 SO/9, 2.4 BB/9)vs Luke Weaver (78 ERA+, 8.0 SO/9, 3.6 BB/9)Last season, at the age of 24, Walker Buehler was the starting pitcher in game three of the World Series!He pitched 7 shutout innings (2-hits, 7 SOs, 0 BB).In the playoffs, if I exclude the inning that he allowed a grand slam, his ERA would have been an impressive 1.99.He has a great fastball.The D-backs acquired Luke Weaver in the Goldschmidt trade.He struggled in 2018, when his strike-out rate per 9 innings (SO/9) dropped from 10.7 to 8.0.In spring training his SO/9 returned to 10 (source MLB.com).Remarkably, he allowed only 2 earned runs in 11.1 innings.To improve his curveball, Luke Weaver worked with pitching coach Mike Butcher (source Zach Buchanan of Athletic).“I caught a few and was like, ‘Oh my goodness. Luke, that’s legit.’”—catcher Carson Kelly.“I feel like it’s going to be a huge year for me because now I feel like I have four pitches that I can definitely throw.” — Luke Weaver Almost done with our top 20"WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections Twinkie Town Farm ReportSatire, Irreverence, & Other HumorGame RecapsTwinkie Town Prospect Vote 2019: Round 19New,12commentsAlmost done with our top 20ESTShareTweetShareShareTwinkie Town Prospect Vote 2019: Round 19Help us pick prospect #19Gilberto Celestino was our choice for round eighteen. We will keep our eye on him this summer where he may be as close as a drive to Cedar Rapids. Royce Lewis 52% (Kirilloff 44%, Graterol 4%)Alex Kirilloff 90% (Graterol 4%, Gordon 4%, Larnach 2%)Brusdar Graterol 56% (Gordon 19%, Larnach 12%, Thorpe 8%, Gonsalves 5%)Trevor Larnach 42% (Thorpe 25%, Gordon 21%, Gonsalves 12%)Lewis Thorpe 31% (Gordon 30%, Rooker 14% Logan Morrison Jersey , Javier 13%, Gonsalves 11%)Nick Gordon 39% (Rooker 20%, Gonsalves 18%, Javier 17%, Alcala 5%)Stephen Gonsalves 35% (Rooker 28%, Javier 28%, Alcala 5%, Baddoo 4%)Brent Rooker 43% (Javier 41%, Baddoo 6%, Enlow 6%, Alcala 4%)Wander Javier 70% (Baddoo 12%, Enlow 7%, Alcala 7%, Duran 4%)Jorge Alcala 32% (Baddoo 28%, Enlow 23%, Duran 14%, Celestino 3%)Jhoan Duran 39% (Enlow 31%, Baddoo 25%, Severino 3%, Celestino 2%)Zack Littell 56% (Enlow 28%, Baddoo 11%, Severino 2%, Celestino 2%)Blayne Enlow 50% (Baddoo 33%, Balazovic 10%, Severino 4%, Celestino 3%)Akil Baddoo 54% (Balazovic 13%, Jeffers 12%, Rortvedt 11%, Severino 8%, Celestino 4%)Ryan Jeffers 34% (Balazovic 31% Orlando Arcia Jersey , Severino 12%, Rortvedt 12%, Celestino 10%)Jordan Balazovic 63% (Rortvedt 13%, Severino 11%, Celestino 10%, Urbina 3%)Ben Rortvedt 33% (Severino 23%, Celestino 20%, Wells 17%, Urbina 6%)Gilberto Celestino 36% (Severino 30%, Miranda 19%, Wells 11%, Urbina 4%) Since Celestino was elected I am adding a different outfielder to the list. This player is much closer to making a big league debut than Celestino.Yunior Severino, 2B 2019 Age: 19 2018 High Level: Elizabethton (Rookie) Yunior Severino was part of the Braves high profile class of international free agent signings headed by Kevin Maitan in 2016. Unfortunately for the Braves those signings became even more high profile when MLB voided the signings and made most of the players free agents again last winter. Severino originally signed a $1.9M contract with the Braves and he gets to keep all of that money. The Twins were able to sign him for $2.5M so the young man has done quite well already. Severino is a switch hitting second baseman from the Dominican Republic. He was promoted after 10 games from the Braves’ Dominican Rookie team to the GCL team and hit .286/.345/.444 in his debut. Scouts believe he has power and he has shown it, albeit inconsistently. He is considered a bat-first infielder who is learning how to play 2B and some scouts think he may need to move to 3B or 1B if he grows significantly. Severino stayed in extended spring training working on fundamentals until Elizabethton started their season last summer. He hit .263/.321/.424 and started off hot but faded as the season went on. His fielding at 2B was solid but he struggled in a few games at SS. As a switch hitter he will be taking lots of extra batting practice to improve on his offense in 2019. Misael Urbina, OF 2019 Age: 17 2018 High Level: Did not play professionally Misael “Misa” Urbina was the top international free agent signed by the Twins last summer costing them a $2.75M bonus with an additional $300k for college. He ranked #5 among international free agents who were available in the 2018 signing period. He comes to the Twins from Venezuela where he has been participating in the Venezuelan Winter League development program for young players. This has allowed him to play against players with professional experience. Scouts like his hit tool and his plus speed. He is considered an advanced defender in the outfield with the range for centerfield but his arm may keep him in left. He is very young so anything can happen but the Twins have done well with international free agents lately. He should make his professional debut this summer in a foreign rookie league but his Twins debut is unlikely before 2023. Tyler Wells, P 2019 Age: 24 2018 High Level: Chattanooga (AA) Tyler Wells was the Twins 15th round selection in the 2016 draft from Cal State San Bernardino. He has steadily climbed the minor league ladder posting a great strikeout rate and decent walk rate while limiting home runs allowed. He has a pretty standard fastball, changeup and slider arsenal but uses his pitches effectively. At 6’8” 265lbs he has the frame of a starting pitcher. He had some biceps tendinitis in July of 2017 but has started healthy last spring at Fort Myers. He was promoted after 16 starts at Fort Myers (8.5 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 2.91 RA) to Chattanooga where he continued to pitch well (10.7 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 1.65 RA) in 32-2/3 innings. Wells is not a young prospect but he has performed admirably at every stop along the way. Expect him to start this year back in Double-A Pensacola with a goal of a promotion to Triple-A. He could pitch for the Twins as early as this September as he is a candidate to be added to the 40 man roster next winter.Jose Miranda, IF 2019 Age: 21 2018 High Level: Fort Myers (A+) Puerto Rican Jose Miranda was the 73rd overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft. He made his debut with the GCL Twins and hit .227 while playing three infield positions. In 2017 the Twins sent him to Elizabethton and had him play mostly 2B because the team had Andrew Bechtold at 3B. Miranda improved at the plate in 2017 hitting .283/.340/.484 in 247 plate appearances. In 2018 he split time defensively between second base and third. He started the season at Cedar Rapids and hit .277/.326/.434 over 104 games. He earned a late season promotion to Fort Myers and initially struggled batting .216 in 27 games to end the season but he hit .400 with two home runs in the playoff series helping the Miracle win the Florida State League championship. His swing is designed to get the ball over the fence which shows in his 27 HR over the past two minor league seasons. Twins scouts have done well in Puerto Rico finding Jose Berrios, Kennys Vargas, and Eddie Rosario in recent years. Let’s hope they found another quality player in Jose Miranda.LaMonte Wade, OF 2019 Age: 25 2018 High Level: Rochester (AAA)LaMonte Wade was the Twins 9th round pick in the 2015 draft from the University of Maryland. The Twins sent him to Elizabethton that summer and he impressed everyone with a 904 OPS, earning an Appy League All-Star nod and a late season look at Cedar Rapids. In 2016 he did well at Cedar Rapids earning a midseason All-Star appearance and even better after a mid-season promotion to Fort Myers producing (again) a 904 OPS at that level. Wade spent 2017 at Chattanooga and hit .292/.397/.408 while getting time at all three outfield positions. He earned a Southern League All-Star spot in 2017, continuing that trend. The Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League and Wade hit .238/.351/.413 until a scary collision ended his season with a concussion. He started 2018 back at Double-A and hit .298/.393/.444 in 46 games before earning a promotion to Triple-A. At Rochester he hit his first speed bump on the way to the big leagues as his offensive production dropped to .229/.337/.336 over 74 games. He had consistently been able to draw more walks than strikeouts but that trend ended at the Triple-A level. Wade has average physical tools for a big league corner outfielder but he makes the most of them with a good batting eye and outfield fundamentals. Wade was added to the 40 man roster this past winter. The Twins seem to be grooming him for a role as a backup and he will spend 2019 in AAA preparing for an opportunity to present itself due to an injury.Although he will probably earn his first roster spot as a bench player he has the potential to be an average MLB left fielder if he can maximize his talent.