Dodgers Dugout: Opening day is finally here

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw gets his sixth opening day start on Monday.

(Morry Gash / AP)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and opening day is always special, because fans of all 30 teams can have the hope and faith that this year their team will win the World Series. Well, except for Padres fans.

First up

The Dodgers open their season today at San Diego against the Padres. The game starts at 4 p.m. PDT, and here is the amazing thing: It will actually be on TV, on ESPN. You don’t get to hear Vin Scully, but you get to see the Dodgers. Some sites are reporting today that the game will be blacked out, but an ESPN representative assured me yesterday that it would be on in L.A. So, cross your fingers.

With all the injuries, the Dodgers’ 25-man roster looks a little bit different than expected. Here it is:

Starting pitchers (5)

Clayton Kershaw

Scott Kazmir

Kenta Maeda

Alex Wood

Ross Stripling (more on him below)

Relievers (7)

Pedro Baez

Joe Blanton

Louis Coleman

Yimi Garcia

Chris Hatcher

J.P. Howell

Kenley Jansen

Howell is the only left-hander in the bullpen.

Catchers (2)

Austin Barnes

A.J. Ellis

Infielders (6)

Charlie Culberson

Adrian Gonzalez

Kiké Hernandez

Corey Seager

Justin Turner

Chase Utley

Hernandez, of course, can also play the outfield.

Outfielders (5)

Carl Crawford

Joc Pederson

Yasiel Puig

Scott Van Slyke

Trayce Thompson

The Dodgers also start the season with 10 players on the disabled list: Brett Anderson, Mike Bolsinger, Andre Ethier, Alex Guerrero, Yasmani Grandal, Howie Kendrick, Brandon McCarthy, Frankie Montas, Josh Ravin and Hyun-jin Ryu.

Opening day numbers

Clayton Kershaw will make his sixth opening day start, tying Fernando Valenzuela and putting him one short of the L.A. Dodgers record of seven, held by Don Drysdale and Don Sutton. The L.A. Dodgers record at the other positions:

1B: Eric Karros (9)

2B: Davey Lopes (7)

3B: Ron Cey (9)

SS: Bill Russell (11)

LF: Dusty Baker (7)

CF: Willie Davis (11)

RF: Andre Ethier (6)

 If you are surprised Steve Garvey isn’t on the list, he started eight times on opening day, from 1975-82.

The L.A. Dodgers are 31-27 on opening day, with their record for most runs scored being 16, which they scored in a 16-7 victory over the Houston Astros in 1983.

The last pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw to start on opening day for the Dodgers was Vicente Padilla in 2010.

And the fifth starter is…

Ross Stripling, who wasn’t even a candidate when spring training began, but has pitched his way into the rotation thanks to some injuries.

Stripling missed all of 2014 after Tommy John surgery and was 3-6 with a 3.66 ERA in 14 starts in the minors last season. He has never pitched above double A.

How high are the Dodgers on Stripling? Well, not very if this quote from Dave Roberts is any indication: "Where we are as far as the state of our rotation, it's more of a necessity for him to start the season with us."

Round up the usual suspects

Here are the projected starting lineups the Dodgers and their NL West opponents will be using for the first few days, or until injured players get back:


  1. Carl Crawford, LF
  2. Yasiel Puig, RF
  3. Justin Turner, 3B
  4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  5. Corey Seager, SS
  6. Chase Utley, 2B
  7. A.J. Ellis, C
  8. Joc Pederson, CF


  1. Jean Segura, 2B
  2. Jake Lamb, 3B
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
  4. David Peralta, RF
  5. Wellington Castillo, C
  6. Socrates Brito, CF
  7. Yasmany Tomas, LF
  8. Nick Ahmed, SS


  1. Charlie Blackmon, CF
  2. Trevor Story, SS
  3. Carlos Gonzalez, RF
  4. Nolan Arenado, 3B
  5. Gerardo Parra, LF
  6. Nick Hundley, C
  7. Ben Paulsen, 1B
  8. DJ LeMahieu, 2B

San Diego

  1. Jon Jay, LF
  2. Corey Spangenberg, 2B
  3. Matt Kemp, RF
  4. Wil Myers, 1B
  5. Yangervis Solarte, 3B
  6. Derek Norris, C
  7. Alexel Ramirez, SS
  8. Melvin Upton Jr., CF

 San Francisco

  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Joe Panik, 2B
  3. Buster Posey, C
  4. Hunter Pence, RF
  5. Brandon Belt, 1B
  6. Matt Duffy, 3B
  7. Brandon Crawford, SS
  8. Angel Pagan, LF

How will they finish?

Here is my prediction as to how the NL West will finish this season:

  1. San Francisco Giants, 93-69
  2. Dodgers, 88-74
  3. Arizona, 81-81
  4. Colorado, 74-88
  5. San Diego, 67-95

The Dodgers will win one of the two wild-card spots.

Of course, those predictions and $10 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. One major website last season picked Kansas City to finish last in the AL Central, which turned out to be slightly incorrect.

And finally

The Dodgers haven’t won a World Series, or even been in one, since 1988, when I was 21 years old. My parents always told me that adult life isn’t always as fun as it seems. I see what they mean. Here’s hoping that this year ends that streak and next year on opening day we get to watch the World Series flag being raised in a ceremony hosted by Vin Scully, who has decided to put off retirement for a year because this season was so much fun.

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