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Quick Thoughts on Why the Yankees Still Match up Well with the Dodgers

The Mookie Betts bomb finally dropped. The Dodgers went big and acquired Betts and David Price from the Red Sox in a three-way deal that saw outfielder Alex Verdugo and Twin’s pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol going to Boston and pitcher Kenta Maeda sent to Minnesota.

Obviously, this deal changes the shape of the Dodger’s lineup, which now features two former MVPs in Betts and Cody Bellinger along with strong young talent up and down the lineup. In addition, David Price is a strong starter to replace Hyun-Jin Ryu in the rotation along with Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw.

The trade is leading to many fans and pundits quickly claiming the Dodgers as the favorites to win the World Series. However, I would still argue that the Yankees are a more complete team than the Dodgers.

I say that they are the most complete team because the Yankees filled their most important need this offseason. The Yankees’ rotation was 17th in MLB in WAR with a WAR of 10.6. Not terrible, but nothing World Series worthy. That changed this offseason with the Yankees’ signing of Gerrit Cole. Now, the Yankees top four of Cole, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and James Paxton looks like a strength. Along with their rock-solid lineup and bullpen, the Yankees are top contenders to make the World Series out of the American League.

Now, why are they better than the Dodgers? After all, Los Angeles has a fantastic rotation and, arguably, a better lineup with similar depth and defense. That comes from their pitching staff and their bullpen.

Yes, the Dodgers’ were ninth in MLB in WAR, but they lacked a back-end star. Joe Kelly (3.78 FIP, 3.9 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9) was fine, but not t e post season stud he was with the Red Sox. Kenley Jansen started showing signs of regression at age 32. Despite a solid 3.48 FIP and good peripherals (11.4 K/9, 2/3 BB/9), Jansen’s fastball velocity declined for the third straight year, down to 92.1 from 92.7 in 2018. He’s still good but not the elite closer he was in year’s past.

Pedro Baez is fine but not a top-line reliever, Ross Stripling is a serviceable long-man, flex starter and that’s about it. Julio Urias is talented and showed said talent (9.6 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 3.43 FIP), but he might be best suited to be a starter than a reliever. Dustin May is talented but raw and might be a starter as well.

My point is that the Dodgers have a solid bullpen, but not an elite group. Remember, this is the same group that crumbled last postseason against the Nationals with the NLDS all but locked up.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have a bullpen with two an elite closer in Aroldis Chapman (who’s 202 ERA+ last season was among his career best). Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino, while posting some poor walk rates (4.7 BB/9 and 5.4 BB/9, respectively) were both incredibly consistent and have considerable room for improvement in 2020. Tommy Kahnle made major strides and Chad Green rebounded from a horrendous April.

The Yankees have a fantastic backend of the bullpen, while returning all of their major arms in their bullpen that finished second in the Major’s in WAR.

Now, the Dodgers are still a powerhouse and deserve their praise for making a big trade for a star outfielder and a great starter. That being said, no one wins World Series in February, and the Dodgers are on a closer playing field than the Yankees than meets the eye.

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