2020 Fantasy Baseball: Los Angeles Dodgers Team Outlook
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have been on the doorstep of a World Series over the last three seasons. In 2019, They won the most games (106) in the team’s 136-year history, but LA lost in the league division series. The Dodgers made the postseason each of their previous seven years while winning the NL West each time and two trips to the World Series. They have six titles (1955, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, and 1987 with 33 postseason appearances.
Los Angeles had the best ERA (3.37) in the majors with 18 shutouts and 44 saves. They moved to fifth in runs (886), fourth in home runs (279), and fourth in RBI (861).
In the offseason, the Dodgers pushed hard to acquire OF Mookie Betts from the Red Sox while also taking on SP David Price. They gave up IF Jeter Downs, OF Alex Verdugo, and C Connor Wong. In another deal, SP Kenta Maeda went to the Twins for RP Brusdar Graterol. LA signed SP Alex Wood, SP Jimmy Nelsen, and RP Blake Treinen.
LA is the favorite in the National League to make the World Series. They have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball while owning a dynamic offense with a mix of studs and upside talent. Their bullpen underperformed in 2019, but they have the right structure to excel again this year.
Consistency has been a problem for Betts early in his career. He dominated in batting average in 2018 (.346) while offering a top-shelf floor in runs over the previous four years (122, 101, 129, and 135). His average hit rate (1.778) falls in a 30 home run range while his wide swings in his batting average are tied to his contact batting average (2017 – .302, 2018 – .420, and 2019 – .355). Betts played at a high-level with runners on base over his first four years in the majors, but he fell to a league-average player (15 percent) in this area in 2019 with continued weakness in his RBI chances (355). His bat did shine over the second half of 2018 (.325 with 16 HRs, 40 RBI, and six SBs over 252 at-bats). Betts lost value vs. lefties (.271 with six HRs and 13 RBI over 166 at-bats – .368 with nine HRs and 26 RBI over 125 at-bats in 2018). He owns top value in balls hit 95 MPH or more (235 – 4th). His swing path produces fly balls (43.8 percent), but his HR/FB rate (13.1) remains flat. Betts has a plus approach (K rate – 14.3 and walk rate (13.7). Clutch player waiting to get paid. Buy his expected edge in batting average with a high floor in runs, power, and speed while understanding he’s just reaching the prime of his career. The change to the NL may lower his ceiling in his power.
After earning a full-time starting job for Los Angeles in 2016, fantasy owners haven’t seen the best of Seager yet. Last year he missed a month over the summer with a hamstring injury. His CTBA (.340) remains below his first two full seasons (.391 and .390). Seager saw fade in his walk rate (8.1) while owning a favorable strikeout rate (18.1). Seager had two productive months (May – .264 with five runs, five HRs, and 20 RBI and September – .291 with seven HRs and 26 RBI) while coming up short over his other 316 at-bats (.268 with seven HRs and 41 RBI). His batting average (.240) had risk against left-handed pitching, but he did have four HRs and 24 RBI over 167 at-bats. Seager had a low hard-hit rate (37.9 – 190th) with much more strength in this area in 2016 (43.8 – 44th). He had a more balanced swing path in 2019, but his HR/FB rate (12.3) still ranked below his success in 2016 (17.9) and 2017 (16.2). His RBI rate (18) screams middle of the order bat. In 2020, Seager should regain his high average swing along with a rebound in power. Based on his ADP (153), he is a complete steal. I fully expect him to hit over .300 while delivering a 100/30/100 season.
Based on LA’s offensive roster in 2020, the Dodgers should open the season with alternating right-handed and left-handed bats at the top of the batting order. This structure gives Turner a tremendous supporting cast in front of him and behind him in the starting lineup. Over his four years with Los Angeles, Turner hit .298 with 293 runs, 89 home runs, 280 RBI, and 15 steals over 1,857 at-bats. Unfortunately, he failed to reach the 480 at-bats level in each of his previous three seasons. His AVH (1.755) had growth with a slight step back in his CTBA (.355). Turner did have some regression in his approach (strikeout rate – 16.0 and walk rate – 9.3) while remaining in a desirable area. His bat plays well against lefties (.288 with 12 HRs and 23 RBI over 160 at-bats). Turner had a quiet first half of the year (.279 with ten HRs and 34 RBI over 289 at-bats). His power emerged in July and August (.289 with 17 HRs and 32 RBI over 180 at-bats) before going down with left ankle sprain in September (5-for-27 with one HR and two RBI). Turner ranked 84th in hard-hit rate (43.4) while setting a career-best in his HR/FB rate (17.0), but his RBI rate (14) fell below his previous success (17 percent in 2018). An aging player who can’t be trusted for a full season of at-bats. With that said, Turner should have the best RBI opportunity in his career. I have to price him as a .300/80/20/80 player while understanding his upside and injury risk. His biggest question comes with his ADP (170).
Bellinger was a mispriced asset last year. Despite a full season of games in 2018, he failed to match the power (25 HRs) or RBIs (76) of his rookie season (39/97). Last season Bellinger turned into a beast with a significant step forward in strikeout rate (16.3 – 23.9 in 2018) and walk rate (14.4 – 10.9 in 2018). He set career highs in runs (121), home runs (47). RBI (115), steals (15), and batting average (.305). Bellinger finished as the third most valuable hitter by SIscore (10.03). He crushed right-handed pitching (.318 with 29 HRs and 71 RBI over 365 at-bats) with plenty of success against lefties (.280 with 18 HRs and 44 RBI over 193 at-bats). His season started with an excellent April (.431 with 32 runs, 14 HRs, 37 RBI, and five SBs over 109 at-bats), setting up a great first half (.336 with 70 runs, 30 HRs, 71 RBI, and eight SBs over 318 at-bats). After the All-Star break, Bellinger only hit .263 with 17 home runs, 44 RBI, and seven stolen bases over 240 at-bats. Both his CTBA (.378) and AVH (2.065) fell in line with his 2017 season while adding more value to his RBI rate (17). Bellinger finished 50th in hard-hit rate (45.5). His swing path is fly-ball favoring (42.4 percent) with strength in his HR/FB rate (24.6). Over his three seasons in the majors, Bellinger had plenty of RBI chances (411 per season), which will only improve with Mookie Betts hitting in front of him. He’ll be a top-five player drafted in 2020 with all the tools to be a five-category stud. I’ll set his floor at .280 with 110 runs, 40 home runs, 125 RBI, and 20 steals.
Muncy maintained his AVH (2.057) while doing a good job with runners on base (RBI rate – 18). He finished with a better than expected opportunity (589 plate appearances) thanks to his ability to play three positions (1B, 2B, and 3B). His strikeout rate (25.3) continues to be a negative with regression in CTBA (.361). Muncy has an elite walk rate (15.3), which led to a jump in runs scored (101) also helped by hitting second in the batting order for about 44 percent of his at-bats. His bat had the best success in May and June (.289 with 41 runs, 15 HRs, and 40 RBI over 190 at-bats) while losing momentum in batting average (.216 with 49 runs, 15 HRs, and 41 RBI over his final 204 at-bats) over the second half of the year. He missed some time in September due to a right wrist injury and a quad issue. Muncy ended up 83rd in hard-hit rate (43.4). His HR/FB rate (26.5) is elite, even with a slight pullback off 2018 (29.4). His swing path had less loft last year (38.7 fly-ball rate – 44.9 in 2018). He hit better against left-handed pitching (.286 with 11 HRs and 38 RBI over 157 at-bats). In 2020, Muncy may hit second or fifth in the batting order. One position rewards him more in runs and the other RBI. His ADP (75) paints him as a top tier player. I see plenty of at-bats and power, but the Dodgers will sit him at times. Trending toward a 40 home run hitter with value in runs and RBI.
Pollock hasn't played a full season since 2015 when he hit .315 with 111 runs, 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 steals over 609 at-bats. Over the last three years, he missed 175 games while looking like a 20/20 player (.263 with 184 runs, 50 HRs, 161 RBI, and 38 SBs over 1,146 at-bats). In 2019, his CTBA (.350) pushed higher for the second straight seasons, but his strikeout rate (21.6) came in above his career average (21.6). Pollock has a below-par walk rate (6.7) while owning a high AVH (1.756) over the past three years. After a quiet April (.223 with 15 runs, two HRs, and 14 RBI over 103 at-bats), he missed 11 weeks with a right elbow injury that required surgery. As rotational player over the final two months, Pollack hit .297 with 23 runs, eight home runs, 20 RBI, and three steals over 145 at-bats. His best value came against left-handed pitching (.323 with six HRs and 18 RBI over 99 at-bats). He had repeated success in his HR/FB rate (17.2). As of now, Pollock will be in a semi-platoon role with Joc Peterson. Viable option based on his ADP (248), but he needs the Dodgers to improve his playing time via a trade.
Last year Smith found his power stroke at AAA (.268 with 48 runs, 20 HRs, and 54 RBI over 224 at-bats). He baited fantasy owners into spending plenty of their free-agent budget after his late May call-up. After six games (6-for-21 with two HRs and three RBI), the Dodgers shipped him back to AAA. Smith teased again in late June (1-for-5 with a HR and three RBI), but he landed in the injured list with an oblique issue. In his third trip to the majors, Smith rewarded his believers with an excellent run over the next month (.339 with 17 runs, nine HRs, and 25 RBI over 62 at-bats). Unfortunately, he lacked follow-through over his final 82 at-bats (.183 with three HRs and 11 RBI). Smith had risk against right-handed pitching (.211 with three HRs and seven RBI over 57 at-bats). He has a high volume fly-ball swing path (53.7 percent with the Dodgers and 52.3 at AAA in 2019). His strikeout rate (26.5) in the majors needs work, but he did take walks (9.2 percent walk rate). Over four seasons in the minor, Smith hit .243 with 55 home runs and 180 RBI over 1,034 at-bats. Getting better while wanting to hit for power. His batting average will have risk due to a lot of easy outs via fly balls. A 30-plus HR swing with a full season of at-bats, but LA has a higher ranked catcher (Keibert Ruiz), only a phone call away. By the floor of 20 home runs plus his handcuff in deep leagues, and expect a top ten catching season with an ADP of 148.
The Dodgers drafted Lux with the 20th selection in the 2016 June MLB Amateur Draft. Over four seasons in the minors, he hit .305 with 293 runs, 48 home runs, 193 RBI, and 52 steals over 1,578 at-bats. His walk rate (11.2) has top of the order value with an above the league average strikeout rate (18.3). In 2019, Lux blossomed at AAA (.347 with 99 runs, 26 HRs, 76 RBI, and ten SBs over 458 at-bats). LA called him up in September while giving him a start on most nights (.240 with two HRs, nine RBI, and two SBs over 75 at-bats). His overall game projects well as number two-hitter with an overall skill set having a better than Chase Utley feel. I expect sneaky speed with an edge in batting average once he gets some major league at-bats under his belt. Right kind of gamble based on his ADP (157) with home run upside if he does find his way to the top of the batting order. His starting points should be .290 with 75 runs, 15 home runs, 70 RBI, and ten steals.
Coming in 2019, Ruiz was the Dodgers' top prospect. They signed him as an international prospect at the age of 16 in 2015. Over five seasons in the minors, he hit .299 with 29 home runs, 199 RBI, and four steals over 1,439 at-bats. Ruiz had to repeat AA last year, which led to a regression in his game (.254 with four HRs and 25 RBI over 276 at-bats). His CTBA (.281) lost a ton of momentum since 2016 (.426) at rookie ball. He continues to have a low AVH (1.329). Ruiz has a low walk rate (6.6) while being tough to strikeout (9.5 percent). This season he should start the year at AAA with an eye on making it to the majors. Ruiz needs to get stronger before expecting to offer help in home runs in the fantasy market. At best, a split role in the majors until he outproduces Will Smith at the plate.
As the Dodgers starting lineup improves, Taylor has been push further back on the at-bat food chain. His swing helped LA win in when he hit .288 with 85 runs, 21 home runs, 72 RBI, and 17 steals over 514 at-bats. The following season Taylor led the NL in strikeouts (178), leading to a step back in production (.254/85/17/63/9). In 2019, he had starting at-bats (253) before the All-Star break (.269 with eight HRs, 41 RBI, and seven SBs). After a month on the injured list with a broken right forearm, he hit .267 with 19 runs, four HRs, and 11 RBI over his final 105 at-bats. Taylor played better against lefties (.255 with seven HRs and 24 RBI over 141 at-bats) while still having a high strikeout rate (27.8). A major league bat with some power and speed, but Taylor now looks like an injury cover with platoon value.
Over five seasons with Los Angeles, Hernandez hit .241 with 232 runs, 66 home runs, 207 RBI, and 12 SBs over 1,652 at-bats. In 2018 and 2019, he had the best opportunity of his career (.246 with 38 HRs and 116 RBI over 816 at-bats). His walk rate (7.8) fell below his previous three seasons (11.5, 12.0, and 10.8) while having a league average strikeout rate (21.1). Hernandez tends to play better vs. lefties (.266 with 35 HRs and 94 RBI over 738 at-bats) in his career with some risk against right-handed pitching (.221 with 31 HRs and 113 RBI over 914 at-bats). Only a deep bench player in 2020 with his best value coming against left-handed pitching.
Over the past three seasons, Pederson pushed his strikeout rate (20.6) above the league average while still offering strength in his walk rate (9.0 in 2019 and 10.1 over this span). His average hit rate (2.161) supports over 40 home runs if ever given a full time starting job. Pederson improved his CTBA (.330) for the second straight year. Still, his batting average (.249) has been a liability even year in the majors despite showing upside in this area on his minor league resume (.298). The Dodgers only gave him 49 at-bats against lefthanded pitching in 2019 (.224 with no HRs, one RBI, and 15 Ks). In his career, Pederson hit .188 vs. lefties with nine home runs, 33 RBI, and 109 strikeouts over 336 at-bats. Over his first 162 at-bats in 2019, he hit .272 with 18 home runs and 33 RBI while also ending the year well (.301 with 12 HRs and 21 RBI over 93 at-bats). Pederson has seven career home runs in the playoffs. His hard-hit rate (43.%) ranked 87th in baseball. He set a career-best in his HR/FB rate (25.9) while showing improvement over the previous two seasons. With 450 at-bats, he looks to be a .250 hitter with a 75/30/75 skill set. Pederson has an ADP of 210 in the early draft season.
Austin Barnes (C) may have played his way off the major league roster after struggling over the past two seasons (.204 with nine HRs, 39 RBI, and seven SBs over 412 at-bats). He did look like an intriguing backend catcher his success in 2017 (.289 with eight HRs, 38 RBI, and four SBs over 218 at-bats). Barnes has a lot to prove in 2020.
Matt Beaty (1B) gave LA good at-bats (249) off the bench last year (.265 with 36 runs, nine HRs, 46 RBI, and five SBs). He has a low strikeout rate (12.3) with the Dodgers. Over five seasons in the minors, Beaty hit .309 with 199 runs, 34 home runs, 218 RBI, and 13 stolen bases over 1,435 at-bats. Reasonable replacement options, but his window for major league playing time looks slim.
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Kershaw may not be the pitcher he once was, but it would be tough to bump him off ace status for the Dodgers based on his elite resume (169-74 with a 2.44 ERA and 2,464 Ks over 2,274.2 innings). A left shoulder injury in spring training led to him sliding in all fantasy formats in 2019. Kershaw ended up missing the first 17 games of the season. He allowed two runs or fewer in 16 of his 28 starts while never giving up more than four runs in a contest. After the All-Star break (9-3 with a 2.95 ERA and 98 Ks over 79.1 innings), Kershaw regained his strikeout rate (11.1). His AFB (90.5) was a career-low while no longer being an edge in velocity. He still has a plus slider (.224 BAA), and curveball (.232 BAA) plus his four-seamer (.232 BAA) had success. Kershaw gave up the most home runs of his career in home runs (1.4 per nine) while seeing a spike in his HR/FB rate (18.5 – 12.7 in 2018 and 9.0 in his career). His ADP (56) ranks 17th for starters in 2020. Over his last four seasons, he averaged 25.5 starts and about 166 innings per season. Even with an excellent 12-year career, it will be tough to get behind Kershaw this draft season. I'd like to see more life on his fastball with no complication in March. The Dodgers are going to win a ton of games, and his stuff still gets batters out. More of a 3.25 ERA and 200 strikeouts if he makes 30 starts.
Last year Buehler pitched like Clayton Kershaw as far as walk rate (1.8) and strikeout rate (10.6), but he still lacks the length in games to be considered a workhorse ace. His 2019 season began with two disaster showings in his first three starts (11 runs and 18 baserunners over 12 innings with nine Ks). By the end of June, Buehler pushed his ERA to 3.43 with 104 strikeouts over 97 innings despite two more rough outings (12 runs and 22 baserunners over 10.2 innings). Over his final 14 starts, he went 6-3 with a 3.06 ERA and 111 strikeouts over 85.1 innings. His AFB (96.9) creates a big edge (four-seam – .209 BAA and sinker – .164 BAA). Buehler uses his slider (.196 BAA), curveball (.245 BAA), and cutter (.250 BAA) about the same percentage of the time. In 2019, he lost some of his ground ball rate (42.7 – 50.0 in 2018). His arm can be found in the second round of most drafts with an ADP of 17. Pushing toward impact wins with a sub 2.50 ERA and 250 strikeouts.
Boston did indeed trade Price in a deal with Mookie Betts to cut their payroll. They owned him $32 million for each of the next three seasons. Over four years with the Red Sox, he went 46-24 with fade in both his ERA (3.84) and WHIP (1.204). Home runs allowed have been a problem over the past two seasons (1.3 per nine) with regression in his walk rate from 2017 to 2019 (2.9, 2.6, and 2.7 – 2.3 in his career). Price did set a career-best in his K rate (10.7) in 2019. Last year after struggling in his first two starts (eight runs and 15 baserunners over 12 innings), Price appeared to be on a path for a useful season (7-1 over 15 starts with a 2.71 ERA and 89 Ks over 76.1 innings). Coming out of the All-Star break, he did have a 3.16 ERA, but Price blew up in his next four starts (10.59 ERA and 37 base runners allowed over 17 innings with 24 Ks). Over this stretch, he served up seven home runs. His failure came from a TFCC Cyst in his left wrist that needed surgery in late September while costing him most of the final two months of the season. His average fastball (92.4) was a career-low. His sinker (.275 BAA), changeup (.278 BAA), and cutter (.263 BAA) all lost value. Overall, there was more good than bad in 2019, but it was masked by his disaster run in late July. This draft season Price has an ADP of 190 as the 73rd pitcher off the board. I can’t trust that he’ll ever be a workhorse arm again, but I also can’t dismiss a rebound in value. He has the talent to win 15 games with 200-plus strikeouts if he can make 30 starts. The move to LA should help his ERA and WHIP.
The Dodgers have done their best to try and limit the innings of Urias early in his career. Over six seasons in the minors, he has a 15-8 record with a 2.76 ERA and 364 strikeouts over 310.1 innings. He missed most of the 2018 season after his recovery left shoulder surgery that occurred in June of 2017. Last year Los Angeles pitched him for most of the season in the bullpen. His strikeout rate (9.6) is an edge with a mid-level walk rate (3.1). Urias pitched better as a reliever (2.01 ERA and 48 Ks over 49.1 innings). In his eight starts, the Dodgers limited him to 30.1 innings with a 3.26 ERA and 37 strikeouts. He had almost the same success against righties (.203) and lefties (.198). His AFB (95.2) was the highest of his career while featuring three plus pitches (four-seam – .189, slider – .122 BAA, and changeup – .232 BAA). Developing arm that looks ready to make 20 to 25 six-innings starts. Wins could be an issue due to a quick hook while adding 150 strikeouts with a sub 3.00 ERA. Like his arm, but not his ADP (162).
May looks ready to rock and roll in the starting rotation for the Dodgers in 2020. Over four seasons in the minors, he went 24-17 with a 3.50 ERA and 394 strikeouts over 403.2 innings. May pushed his way from AA to the majors last year while not losing beat on the big stage. In LA, he threw strikes (walk rate – 1.3) while his strikeout rate (8.3) came in shorter than his minor league resume (8.8). His AFB (96.0) is elite with more upside when he fills out. May relies on a cutter (.188 BAA) and a plus sinker (.247 BAA). His next step will come with more consistency with his curveball. With 141.1 innings under his belt in 2019, he should have no problem pushing toward 180 innings this season. Almost gift based on ADP (244). I expect a sub 3.50 ERA and 175 strikeouts with double-digit wins.
Wood pitched well in 2018 (3.68 ERA and 135 Ks over 151.2 innings), but he failed to match his breakout success in 2017 (16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and 151 Ks over 152.2 innings). Last year Wood didn’t make his first start until July 28th due to a back injury. His arm had no value over his seven starts (5.80 ERA, 1.402 WHIP, and 11 home runs over 35.2 innings). His AFB (90.0) was a career-low while no pitched offered an edge. Before in 2019, Wood had a 3.29 ERA and 738 strikeouts over 803.1 innings. In the mix for the fifth starting job, but he has a lot to prove this season.
Over five seasons in the minors, Stripling went 13-14 with a 2.86 ERA and 237 strikeouts over 258.1 innings. His development in the minors was cut short by TJ surgery in 2014. The Dodgers have used him as a swingman over the past four seasons, leading to a 20-24 record with a 3.51 ERA and 377 strikeouts over 387 innings. His walk rate (2.0) is now elite with strength as well in his strikeout rate (9.2). Stripling posted a 3.60 ERA in 2019 over his 15 starts covering 70 innings with 71 strikeouts. His AFB (90.7) is below par with his only pitch of value being his plus curveball (.164 BAA). He had league average value with his slider (.268 AAA) while his changeup (.259 BAA) has a chance to have further growth. The sum of his parts grades better than his stuff. Rotational starting option for the Dodgers while only being a flier based on his ADP (297).
Just when the Dodgers are ready to make a long extended World Series run, their elite closer is starting to run on fumes. In 2019, Jansen blew eight of his 41 saves chances with regression in his ERA (3.71) and more risk in his HR/9 rate (1.3). His walk rate (2.3) remains low while trending higher. He struggled in six of his first 17 games, which led to a 4.67 ERA, and four home runs over 17.1 innings. After a correction over his next 21 innings (3.05 ERA, 27 Ks, and 11 SVs), Jansen looked shaky down the stretch (4.74 ERA) while blowing five of 15 save tries. He served up eight of his 13 home runs to left-handed batters (.198 over 131 at-bats). His AFB (93.5) and cutter (92.0) were career-lows. Hitters did struggle to hit all three of his pitches (cutter – .235 BAA, sinker – .160 BAA, and slider – .135 BAA). With 301 career saves under his belt with a 2.35 ERA and 903 strikeouts over 611.2 innings, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt based on his falling ADP (128). Los Angeles will win a ton of games, which points to 40-plus saves with a rebound in ERA and over 80 strikeouts.
This "Trein" wreck killed fantasy teams in 2019. After underachieving his expected value in his major league career, Treinen made a step forward in his game and success in 2018. He delivered an impressive nine wins plus 38 saves and 100 strikeouts over 80.1 innings. His walk rate (2.4) was the best of his career while improving in each of the last three seasons. The growth in his command led to a spike in his strikeout rate (11.2 – 8.8 in his career). In 2019, Treinen lost his control (5.7 walks per nine) while struggling with home runs (1.4 per nine). Other than walks (nine over 13.1 innings), his arm had success in his first 11 games (0.68 ERA, 17 Ks, and six SVs). By the All-Star break, he pitched himself out of the ninth inning with a poor 25.1 innings (6.75 ERA and 1.776 WHIP). Treinen limped home with a 5.40 ERA over his final 20 innings. His AFB (97.3) was one mph lower than 2018 (98.3) after gaining value over the previous two years. The only pitch that had success was his slider (.200 BAA), but he threw it only 14 percent of the time compared to 21 percent in 2018. Treinen ended the year with a back injury while spending time on the injured list in June with a right shoulder issue. A bounce-back should be expected, but he is a long way away from taking the closing job. Avoid the temptation.
The future closer of the Dodgers may lie in the right arm of Graterol. Over four seasons in the minors, he went 19-6 with a 2.48 ERA and 230 strikeouts over 214 innings. In 2019, he made the transition from starter to reliever at AA. After struggling at AAA (5.06 ERA) in relief, Minnesota still called him up to the majors in September. Over ten appearances with the Twins, he posted a 4.66 ERA and ten strikeouts over 9.2 innings while allowing a run or more in 30 percent of his appearances. His AFB (98.9) has closing upside. Graterol works off a sinker/slider combination of pitches to get batters out. Only a flier in deep leagues on draft day while still having a chance at developing as a starter. Player to follow as his arm could come quickly if he’s throwing strikes.