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Can Dodgers Finally Get Over the Hump?

Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw

In the wake of a disappointing first-round playoff exit last October, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a different looking ball team heading into 2016. But are they better? That’s up for debate.

After losing co-ace Zack Grienke to the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks in the offseason and passing on the other big names available, the Dodgers decided the best course of action was to add as much depth as possible to their starting rotation. It’s an interesting strategy for a franchise that’s had no issues breaking out the check book in the past, however they won’t have an easy path back to the postseason in a loaded National League.

General manager Farhan Zaidi opted to sign Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda to fill the gap. There’s a new manager (Dave Roberts) in town, and the offense remains largely the same which figures to be the team’s main strength.

Oddsmakers at Bovada have tabbed the Dodgers with a +1200 chance to win the World Series – the third-best chances of any big league club – while their NL Pennant chances sit at +550. As for the division? That’s where it gets really interesting.

The San Francisco Giants, who added Jeff Samardzija (while spurning L.A.) and Johnny Cueto to the front end of their staff, are the favorites to win the NL West at +125. The Dodgers (+150) are right behind them, with Grienke’s Diamondbacks sitting at +300. Needless to say, this division is going to be a dogfight, and it’s incredibly hard to prognosticate who’s going to take it at this point.

The sportsbook has tabbed L.A. with a season win total of 88.5. Fresh off a 92-70 campaign, the Dodgers haven't finished below 92 victories since 2012. A perennially strong regular season team, the Dodgers will be in tough to repeat that mark again this year, meaning the 88.5 number looks fair.

Any team that features names like Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez, Corey Seager, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig is going to be mentioned in the conversation when it comes to winning it all, but there’s more concern around this year’s Dodgers than usual.

For starters, L.A.’s injury report could be a lengthy one. Left fielder Carl Crawford is a walking injury concern, Puig missed a lot of time in 2015, and Yasmani Grandal, Justin Turner and Enrique Hernandez all recently went under the knife. Maeda has had a tough time staying healthy in his career, and Kazmir hasn’t reached the 200 inning mark since 2007.

Throw in Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy who are rehabbing from major arm injuries, and the Dodgers could be forced to rely on that aforementioned depth more than they’d like to.

Don’t get me wrong – the Dodgers are a very good team. It’s the landscape around them that’s going to make it incredibly tough to take the leap in a vastly improved division. If the rotation stays healthy and Puig, Seager and Gonzalez continue to put runs on the board with ease, Los Angeles could easily find itself in a position to make a deep playoff run.

But if the absence of Grienke becomes too big to overcome and injuries take their toll, the Dodgers may end up searching for answers once again in a market where patience is wearing thin.

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2016 Los Angeles Dodgers Futures Odds
World Series+1200
National League Pennant+550
National League West+115
Win Totals88.5

Odds as of April 1 at Bovada