The Los Angeles Dodgers Aren't Messing Around This Year
The Toronto Blue Jays then made the two biggest splashes before this year's trading deadline, swiping a talented shortstop in Troy Tulowitzki, and just a few days later filling their pitching void by nabbing David Price.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers were in need of some pitching as well, but let the big names go by, looking for the right trade partners for what they really needed.
Enter the Marlins and Braves, two teams looking to dump some salary and restock their own farm system. The Dodgers gladly obliged, setting up a 13-player, 3-team trade -- and they came out like bandits.
|Dodgers Get:||Braves Get:||Marlins Get:|
|SP Mat Latos||INF Hector Olivera||P Kevin Guzman|
|1B Michael Morse||RP Paco Rodriguez||P Jeff Brigham|
|SP Alex Wood||P Zachary Bird||P Victor Araujo|
|RP Jim Johnson|
|RP Luis Avilan|
|P Bronson Arroyo|
|INF Jose Peraza|
Let's break some of this down just to see how much the Dodgers improved for the stretch run.
Strengthening the Bullpen
Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan will provide a much needed boost to the Dodgers bullpen right away. Johnson had taken over the closing duties for the Braves when Jason Grilli went down with an injury for the rest of the season. Johnson had saved 9 games out of his 13 chances and brings a great ground-ball rate (60.8%) to the their bullpen.
Avilan just gives the Dodgers another bullpen reliever, but as a left-hander, he could spell J.P. Howell some over the rest of the season if Howell needs the rest. With Avilan strengthening the middle relief and Johnson in line to become the main setup man for Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers will have plenty of options late in the game.
Forming a Playoff Rotation
The Dodgers' big coup though came with the starters they are able to add to their rotation. Obviously, they have a formidable -- to say the least -- 1-2 punch in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but the rest of the rotation has been a revolving door for the Dodgers: 12 different pitchers outside of Kershaw and Greinke have made a start for the Dodgers this year.
The Dodgers have been in desperate need of some starters with their rash of injuries. Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu both had season-ending surgeries, and Carlos Frias just hit the disabled list as well. Yimi Garcia, Ian Thomas and Brandon Beachy haven't provided anything, and rookie Zach Lee just got tagged for seven earned runs against the Mets.
Now that the Dodgers have Mat Latos and Alex Wood, they have flexibility for the back-end of their rotation. Brett Anderson has experience on his side, while Mike Bolsinger is still adjusting to the Major League level in his first season, so Anderson will likely take the fifth starting spot in the rotation. However, with Anderson's injury history, pacing Bolsinger in the bullpen will provide good insurance if something happens to Anderson yet again.
This trade gives the Dodgers two quality guys that will slot in as the third and fourth spots in the rotation, and they could probably be the number-two arms on most other pitching staffs. Mat Latos has bounced back nicely from his injury-filled 2014. His velocity is back, and his strikeouts per nine innings are similar to his numbers back in 2012 and 2013. And don't be fooled by the high ERA (4.48) -- his FIP tells us that number is higher than it should be and he is better than it appears.
Stealing Alex Wood from the Braves is just gravy on top, even if Wood has seen a drop in his strikeout rate this year compared to last. He's still young and developing, has a deceptive throwing motion and gives the Dodgers a nice asset for the next few years. Being behind Kershaw and Greinke should take off some pressure on him that he saw in Atlanta.
Increasing Their Odds
So the Dodgers strengthened their rotation and bolstered the depth of the bullpen enormously. The Dodgers also added young infielder Jose Peraza, who played second base in the minors despite being more of a natural at shortstop -- the Braves just had this guy named Andrelton Simmons blocking him. But if Peraza impresses quickly with the Dodgers, he could replace the lackluster Jimmy Rollins.
The one con for the Dodgers in this trade is the money they have to take back in all the trades. But even though the Dodgers are spending like the Yankees in years past, they aren't phased by it -- they know they need to do all they can to stay ahead of the Giants.
This massive trade for the Dodgers certainly did that for them, adding a full win (91 in all) to their projected win-loss record. They were already favorites to win the division, but their chances went from 63.6% to 70.1% after the trade.
But that isn't all -- the Dodgers were already favorites to win it all this year, barely, when the Latos trade was first rumored. Now that it's a done deal, and with even more assets, the Dodgers chances to win the World Series rose from 17% to 22.32%.
Our preseason favorite has done all they can to make sure they finish the season in the same spot.