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Dodgers questions answered as ‘Mannywood II: The Sequel’ gets set to launch

The Dodgers’ second half comes with its own title: “Mannywood II: The Sequel.”

In Hollywood, sequels often fail to match the success of the original. This time, that would be a disaster.

In 2008, Manny Ramirez propelled the Dodgers to the National League championship series. In 2018, Manny Machado is expected to power the Dodgers into nothing less than the World Series.

Machado is expected to make his Dodgers debut Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers the first day of the Dodgers’ renewed push to win the National League West.

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The Dodgers didn’t get Machado to win the division. They got him to win the World Series, right?

Yes, but one step at a time. The Dodgers led the division by 7 1/2 games at last year’s All-Star break. This year, they lead by a half-game, with the top four teams in the division within four games of one another.

The Dodgers play their next 32 games against teams with winning records, the first 20 against teams with better records: the Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics.

Seriously, though, the Dodgers are going win the West, aren’t they? They always do, and they didn’t give up anyone on the major league roster to get Machado. How much better are they?

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The Fangraphs projections had the Dodgers winning by four games before the trade, by six after the trade.

That’s all? Maybe the Dodgers should make another trade.

They almost certainly will, because their greatest need is pitching. They’ll get a reliever, perhaps two. They usually do: Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson last year, Josh Fields two years ago, Luis Avilan and Jim Johnson three years ago. You probably hadn’t heard of most of those guys when the Dodgers traded for them, and you probably hadn’t heard of Dylan Floro or Erik Goeddel before the Dodgers acquired them this year.

If they could get an All-Star infielder in Machado, why not an All-Star reliever in Brad Hand?

Because, as the Dodgers prove every July, they do not trade their elite prospects. The Dodgers got Machado without giving up pitcher Walker Buehler, outfielder Alex Verdugo or catcher Keibert Ruiz. The San Diego Padres got the Cleveland Indians to surrender their top prospect, catcher Francisco Mejia, in Thursday’s three-player trade for Hand.

That could work in the Dodgers’ favor, though, if they do get to the World Series, since the Indians, Astros, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees might exhaust themselves in the death-match American League playoffs.

Why did you mention Buehler as a prospect? He has been one of the Dodgers’ best pitchers this season.

Fair enough. But this is his second full professional season, and he never had started a game in the major leagues before this one. The Dodgers are limiting his innings this season. They optioned him to triple-A last week, but he has not pitched there and is not yet scheduled to do so. The Dodgers play 17 consecutive days to start the second half, and he could return if the team uses six starters during the stretch.

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The Dodgers also plan to keep a wary eye on the workload of All-Star Ross Stripling, who is at 95 1/3 innings. His career high: 127 2/3 innings, five years ago, split between the Class-A California League and the double-A Southern League. They hope that Hyun-Jin Ryu can return sometime in August.

The Dodgers have not announced their pitching rotation beyond this weekend: Rich Hill on Friday, Clayton Kershaw on Saturday, Alex Wood on Sunday.

Will Max Muncy have to surrender No. 13 to Machado?

Apparently not, since the Dodgers’ online team shop displayed 11 Machado jerseys and four Machado T-shirts for sale Thursday — all with him wearing No. 8.

Who was the last player to wear No. 8 for the Dodgers?

Shane Victorino, for 53 games in 2012. Before that? Olmedo Saenz, gleefully nicknamed “The Killer Tomato.”

What was the most widely circulated quote in Philadelphia on Thursday?

This one, from Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi, on trading for Machado when he can leave as a free agent after the season: “This is about 2018 for us. We hope he plays well and creates a good market for himself.”

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So the Dodgers have no interest in retaining Machado beyond this season?

Too soon to say for sure. It’s not in their business plan to sign one player for $400 million, but plans can change and, as we saw last winter, the free-agent market can crash in unexpected ways. In the meantime, Philadelphia Phillies fans swooning for Machado can keep hope alive now, instead of just hoping that Mike Trout comes home when his contract with the Angels expires after the 2020 season.

What are the odds of Machado signing with the Dodgers?

On Thursday, Bovada offered 5/1 odds that he does. But fans don’t really bet on where players might sign in free agency, do they?

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin


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