Watch Now: Dodgers Need Their MVP's To Be MVP's (1:57)

In 2019, the Los Angeles Dodgers won a franchise-record 106 games and took home their seventh consecutive NL West division title before falling to the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS. The club's unexpectedly early exit in the 2019 postseason put more pressure on the 2020 Dodgers -- and that was before they added another superstar.

The Dodgers will enter the 2020 season -- once again -- as the best team on paper in the National League, but it's not about winning a pennant in a shortened campaign. The club is hungrier than ever for a ring, and their blockbuster offseason trade for former AL MVP Mookie Betts proves it. The Dodgers are still going to focus on winning a World Series, no matter the season's length. 

Manager Dave Roberts doesn't think that the unique season shouldn't make a difference on how the 2020 World Series champions should be regarded.

"There will be no asterisk," Roberts said earlier this year. "When you look at all of the hurdles, keeping your team together emotionally, and what your players have to do differently to prepare for this season, you can argue it would mean more than going through the duration and grind of an eight-month season."

"I think if there's a championship to be won, we're going to do everything in our power to win that championship," Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner added to the Los Angeles Times. "So, people are going to say whatever they're going to say but if there's an opportunity to win a championship, we're going to show up every day and work towards that goal and do everything we can to win it."

Over the last three seasons, the Dodgers have come close to getting that elusive title twice. The 2017 World Series was a seven-game loss to the Houston Astros; 2018 saw L.A. lose to the Boston Red Sox in five games. With this offseason's findings that both Houston and Boston participated in illegal sign-stealing schemes during their respective title seasons, the Dodgers' pain from the back-to-back World Series losses has shifted to anger.

Plenty of Dodgers players (Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger and others) shared their frustrations about the sign-stealing scandals and the league's subsequent investigations and punishments. They'll certainly be heading into the 2020 season with an ax to grind. Lucky for them, as part of the new geographically based schedule, the Dodgers will get to face the Astros four times during the 2020 regular season.

The Dodgers have all the right pieces to succeed in an abbreviated season, but will they finally break through and win it all in 2020? Let's preview the Dodgers.

Win total projection, odds

2020 Sportsline projection: 40-20
World Series odds (via William Hill Sportsbook): 13/4
2019 record: 106-56 (Lost to Nationals in NLDS)

2020 Schedule

Jul 23, 2020vs San Francisco10:08 pmDodger Stadium
Jul 24, 2020vs San Francisco9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Jul 25, 2020vs San Francisco4:10 pmDodger Stadium
Jul 26, 2020vs San Francisco10:08 pmDodger Stadium
Jul 28, 2020Houston9:10 pmMinute Maid Park
Jul 29, 2020Houston7:10 pmMinute Maid Park
Jul 30, 2020Arizona9:40 pmChase Field
Jul 31, 2020Arizona9:40 pmChase Field
Aug 1, 2020Arizona8:10 pmChase Field
Aug 2, 2020Arizona4:10 pmChase Field
Aug 3, 2020San Diego9:10 pmPetco Park
Aug 4, 2020San Diego9:10 pmPetco Park
Aug 5, 2020San Diego9:10 pmPetco Park
Aug 7, 2020vs San Francisco9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 8, 2020vs San Francisco9:10 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 9, 2020vs San Francisco4:10 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 10, 2020vs San Diego9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 11, 2020vs San Diego9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 12, 2020vs San Diego9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 13, 2020vs San Diego9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 14, 2020L.A. Angels9:40 pmAngel Stadium of Anaheim
Aug 15, 2020L.A. Angels9:40 pmAngel Stadium of Anaheim
Aug 16, 2020L.A. Angels4:10 pmAngel Stadium of Anaheim
Aug 17, 2020vs Seattle9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 18, 2020vs Seattle7:10 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 19, 2020Seattle9:40 pmT-Mobile Park
Aug 20, 2020Seattle7:10 pmT-Mobile Park
Aug 21, 2020vs Colorado9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 22, 2020vs Colorado9:10 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 23, 2020vs Colorado4:10 pmDodger Stadium
Aug 25, 2020San Francisco9:45 pmOracle Park
Aug 26, 2020@San Francisco9:45 pmOracle Park
Aug 27, 2020San Francisco8:05 pmOracle Park
Aug 28, 2020Texas9:05 pmGlobe Life Field
Aug 29, 2020Texas7:05 pmGlobe Life Field
Aug 30, 2020Texas2:35 pmGlobe Life Field
Sep 1, 2020vs Arizona9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 2, 2020vs Arizona9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 3, 2020vs Arizona9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 4, 2020vs Colorado9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 5, 2020vs Colorado9:10 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 6, 2020vs Colorado10:10 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 8, 2020Arizona9:40 pmChase Field
Sep 9, 2020Arizona9:40 pmChase Field
Sep 10, 2020Arizona9:40 pmChase Field
Sep 12, 2020vs Houston8:07 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 13, 2020vs HoustonTBADodger Stadium
Sep 14, 2020San Diego9:10 pmPetco Park
Sep 15, 2020San Diego9:10 pmPetco Park
Sep 16, 2020San Diego4:10 pmPetco Park
Sep 17, 2020Colorado8:40 pmCoors Field
Sep 18, 2020Colorado8:10 pmCoors Field
Sep 19, 2020Colorado8:10 pmCoors Field
Sep 20, 2020Colorado3:10 pmCoors Field
Sep 22, 2020vs Oakland9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 23, 2020vs Oakland9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 24, 2020vs Oakland9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 25, 2020vs L.A. Angels9:40 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 26, 2020vs L.A. Angels9:10 pmDodger Stadium
Sep 27, 2020vs L.A. Angels3:10 pmDodger Stadium

Projected lineup

  1. RF Mookie Betts
  2. 1B Max Muncy
  3. 3B Justin Turner
  4. CF Cody Bellinger
  5. DH Joc Pederson
  6. LF A.J. Pollock
  7. SS Corey Seager
  8. C Will Smith
  9. 2B Gavin Lux

Bench: C Austin Barnes, INF/OF Matt Beaty, INF/OF Enrique Hernandez, INF/OF Edwin Rios, INF/OF Chris Taylor

The Dodgers are built to be the best team in baseball. They don't really have a bad lineup option, and it's likely manager Dave Roberts is going to play around with it semi-frequently. In a 60-game schedule, the teams who will find the most success are those with versatile and flexible rosters.

Betts, Bellinger and Pollock (if he is and stays 100 percent healthy) could arguably be one of the strongest outfields in baseball. There's also flexibility with Hernandez, Taylor and Pederson all able to fill in at outfield spots.

It's also going to benefit the Dodgers to have the designated hitter the entire season; the universal DH was agreed upon as one of the rule changes for the 2020 season. Since the Dodgers depth is practically limitless, Roberts will be able to use Turner, Pederson, Muncy or Pollock at the DH spot. Roberts told MLB Network Radio last month that he does not expect to have a full-time DH this season. Instead, he's planning to use the spot as a partial day-off for regular players, depending on the handedness of the starting pitcher.

Projected rotation

  1. LHP Clayton Kershaw
  2. RHP Walker Buehler
  3. LHP Julio Urias
  4. LHP Alex Wood
  5. RHP Ross Stripling

David Price, who was acquired in the Betts trade, announced that he would be opting out of the 2020 season. Price had been expected to be the Dodgers' No. 3 starter, behind Kershaw and Buehler. Hyun-jin Ryu is another key loss; the veteran southpaw left via free agency and signed a four-year, $80 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Projected bullpen

The Dodgers had their fair share of bullpen issues last season. But despite the underperformance in 2019, the club has the right pitchers to bounce back this year.

Can Mookie help deliver a title?

With this shortened season, Betts will have to play a bigger role in simply getting the Dodgers to the postseason. Dodgers fans are going to declare their Betts trade a success or failure based on whether or not they are able to bring home a championship.

The 27-year-old Betts will be a free agent this winter, and, given his age and performance, it was thought that he could command upward of $400 million. Due to the pandemic, that number might be suppressed, but L.A. would love to keep Betts in Dodger blue beyond 2020. It's worth noting that if the 2020 season is forced to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, players will receive a year of service time. (This was agreed upon in the MLB/MLBPA March agreement)

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers-Workouts
Mookie Betts is expected to man right field on an everyday basis with the Dodgers. USATI

Betts says has no regrets about rejecting a reported 10-year, $300 million offer from the Red Sox last offseason.

The 2018 AL MVP is slated to occupy the Dodgers leadoff spot when the regular season gets underway. He'll also be the club's everyday right fielder. Betts has won four consecutive Gold Gloves and leads the league with 93 defensive runs saved in right field since 2016.

No Price, no problem?

Even after the loss of Price and Ryu (plus Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda), the Dodgers rotation still looks pretty solid on paper. Future Hall of Famer Kershaw and 2020 Cy Young candidate Buehler will look to lead the way on the club's rotation, while the 23-year-old Urias, lefty Wood and seasoned swingman Stripling will follow.

Manager Dave Roberts will also be able to turn to young right-handers Dustin May, Brusdar Graterol and Tony Gonsolin. But, the Dodgers will lose out out on veteran right-hander Jimmy Nelson this year due to back surgery. The procedure is expected to keep him out for the entirety of this season. The Dodgers signed Nelson as a low-risk, high-reward option this past January.

With some of the questions and uncertainties surrounding the rotation, the Dodgers are going to be hoping for some breakout performances from some of their top youngsters.

Can Jansen bounce back?

When you're playing just 60 regular-season games, keeping relievers healthy is going to be a huge key to success. While Kershaw and Buehler can go deep into games, it could always be a safe bet for the Dodgers to try the piggybacking method and take starters out earlier than usual. But, there are some other issues the Dodgers are facing, including the health of Dodgers closer Jansen after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Jansen told reporters at Dodgers camp that he never considered opting out of this season.

"I always wanted to play," Jansen said. "I love this game. I wanted to play for the fans. Not only Dodger fans, but baseball fans around the world to have something to watch on TV."

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers
Will we see a revitalized Kenley Jansen in 2020? USATI

Although Jansen said that he expects to be ready by Opening Day, as of now, he is not cleared.

In 2019, Jansen posted a 3.71 ERA, 3.48 FIP and 1.06 WHIP with 80 strikeouts and 16 walks in 63 innings across 62 regular-season appearances while converting 33 of 41 save opportunities. Jansen has been in a decline for each of the last two seasons, but the Dodgers were hoping for a bounce back in 2020. The 32-year-old even spent time at the acclaimed pitching facility Driveline this offseason as he tried to recapture his cutter. The Dodgers later announced the hiring of Driveline's Rob Hill as a pitching coordinator. (He also worked with Kershaw, Wood, Kelly this offseason)

It's possible that Blake Treinen, an offseason signing, could take over the closer role, if necessary. Treinen, 32, has recorded 71 saves in his career, including 38 during the 2018 season, when he posted a dominant 0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 across 80.1 innings. However, Treinen's 2019 season didn't see nearly the same impressive numbers as his 2018 marks. He threw 58 2/3 innings with a 4.91 ERA and was non-tendered by Oakland.