The Los Angeles Dodgers are gearing up for another World Series run in 2022 after falling short last season. The team enters the 2022 campaign as NL West favorites once again, despite the tremendous year the Giants enjoyed in 2021. Still, as we saw last season, winning the division will be anything but a cakewalk. The Dodgers have one of the best rosters in baseball at every level of the game, but there are still some areas of concern for the team.
The Dodgers will need players performing to the best of their ability throughout the year. Particularly come October and November during the postseason. Consistency will be a key component in the Dodgers’ quest for a World Series in 2022. What’s the point of having baseball’s biggest payroll if you can’t get it done when the stakes get raised?
With that in mind, here are the three biggest questions facing the Dodgers heading into the 2022 season.
3 biggest questions facing Dodgers in 2022 MLB season
3. What will happen with Trevor Bauer?
The Trevor Bauer situation remains an enigma going forwards. As it stands, Bauer was placed on administrative leave through April 16 while MLB mulls whether or not to hand down another suspension to the controversial pitcher. Bauer will miss at least the first week of the regular season and could stand to be absent a lot longer. Bauer hasn’t pitched since June 28 when he was suspended amid allegations of sexual assault. It was ruled on Feb. 8 that Bauer would not be facing criminal charges, however, MLB is still able to suspend him, which remains a possibility.
Whether or not Bauer is cleared to play, it’s unknown if he’ll be welcomed back to the Dodgers. The team is preparing to play the 2022 season without him. Dave Roberts announced the team’s projected starting rotation on Monday, not even acknowledging Bauer as an option.
Dave Roberts said Tony Gonsolin is leading the pack to be the Dodgers’ fifth starter and Andrew Heaney will start in the first rotation turn. Said he’s talked to Tyler Anderson about being a piggyback bulk arm when needed. David Price isn’t built up right now.
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) March 27, 2022
For however long Bauer’s MLB future is up in the air, it’s another question the Dodgers will be facing this season.
2. Can they get it done in the postseason?
The Dodgers have had one of the best rosters in baseball for the better part of a decade. LA has been to three of MLB’s past five World Series’, yet despite that, they have just one ring to show for it. Regardless of how well the team performs during the regular season, it doesn’t matter if you can’t get the job done in October. Recently, the Dodgers have failed to show up in crunch time. Having everyone on the team remain sharp throughout the postseason will be critical for Los Angeles this season.
Last year in the NLCS against the Braves, some star players completely disappeared for the Braves. Mookie Betts managed just four hits in the series, and Corey Seager struck out 9 times in 23 at-bats. Those types of performance simply won’t suffice when the stakes are raised. Not to mention the well-documented struggles of Clayton Kershaw in the postseason. If the team can’t get it together during their postseason run, they’ll once again be left wondering where it all went wrong.
1. Which Cody Bellinger is the real Cody Bellinger?
So far throughout the career of Dodgers’ outfielder Cody Bellinger, we’ve seen what feels like two completely different players. There was, of course, the sensational first three seasons of his career, during which he won NL Rookie of the Year, NL MVP, and made two All-Star games. Throughout that span, Bellinger slashed .278/.369/.559 with 111 home runs, 288 RBI, across 450 games.
The subsequent two seasons have seen his numbers fall off a cliff, and he’s scarcely resembled the player he once was. Now just 26, Bellinger has struggled since the COVID-19 shortened 2020 campaign. In the past two years, Bellinger is slashing .195/.278/.364 with 22 home runs, 66 RBI, and 136 strikeouts across just 151 games. He only featured in 95 games for the Dodgers last season and was a shell of himself when healthy. While he showed major improvements in the postseason, the early results of 2022 MLB Spring Training have seen Bellinger falling back into his bad clothesstriking out more often than not.
If the Dodgers want to win it all in 2022, they’ll need Bellinger at his best. Otherwise, he runs the risk of slipping into a platoon role with the recently-signed Kevin Pillar.