In this last week, we learned that someone not named Clayton Kershaw or Walker Buehler would be starting on Opening Day this year. Actually, we’ve known that Kershaw wouldn’t be starting for a few weeks but Walker Buehler was the go to for Opening Day. As Dodger fans we thought that this would the time when the Kershaw era “ends” and the Buehler era begins. The Clayton Kershaw era won’t end until he retires but, it will “end” when Walker Buehler starts on Opening Day over Kershaw.
So with a multitude of options that could start on Opening Day, the list started to get narrowed down fairly quick. Rich Hill, the next guy in line after Kershaw and Buehler, was one of the finalists to start on Opening Day until he strained his MCL. As much as we wanted to see D. Mountain pitch on Opening Day, sadly it won’t happen. Rich Hill will join Clayton Kershaw on the Injured List to start the season.
After Rich Hill, the decision fell to Hyun Jin Ryu. Ryu has never started an Opening Day game here in the US, mainly because he’s been with the Dodgers since he came over from Korea. However, he has pitched on Opening Day in Korea, though it’s still not the same. Nonetheless, I still expect Ryu to go out there and pitch a good game.
The Dodgers rotation for the first couple of weeks of the regular season will include: Hyun Jin Ryu, Ross Stripling, Kenta Maeda, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias. Julio Urias is an intriguing name and situation because the Dodgers wanted to limit his usage this season since he is coming off a major shoulder surgery. However, the kid has been so good in Spring that I don’t think the Dodgers really had a choice. More than likely he will be sent down once Clayton Kershaw or Rich Hill comes back. Or he will be moved into the bullpen. One thing the Dodgers need to do is make sure that Julio Urias is well taken care of. He is a future #2 to Walker Buehler.
A popular response to Hyun Jin Ryu starting on Opening Day has been, “If Walker Buehler isn’t on the injured list, why isn’t he starting on Opening Day?” Well, Buehler isn’t starting on Opening Day because he has a slow Spring Training. Early on in Spring he was having discomfort in his arm and that limited his progression. He is healthy, but Opening Day wouldn’t be ideal for Buehler.
Today is the final game of Spring Training, after today the Dodgers will pack up and head to Anaheim for a 3 game exhibition series against the Angels. Opening Day is next Thursday and the final roster has not been set yet. The Dodgers still have 35 men on their current roster, 10 of which will be reassigned or optioned to Minor League camps. One thing is for sure, barring some freak accidents, we will see these players in the Opening Day lineup:
- Corey Seager
- Justin Turner
- Cody Bellinger
- AJ Pollock
- Austin Barnes
- Kiké Hernandez
- Hyun Jin Ryu
That isn’t a whole lineup and I know that but, these are players we are almost guaranteed to see in the lineup on Opening Day. The other two spots, First base and Left Field, will possibly be decided on the matchups. First base will either feature Max Muncy or David Freese. Left Field should have Alex Verdugo as he’s played better than Joc Pederson this whole Spring. As we all know, the Dodgers have their own way of doing things when it comes to lineups.
Remember Dodger fans, we are days away from hearing, “It’s time for Dodger Baseball!”