The Dodgers looked not just like World Series winners yesterday in their opener against the Padres, but like a team that could go 162-0, but consider the competition. The rebuilding Padres, with a roster that includes three inexperienced Rule-5 must-keep-on-the-roster players, a starting outfield that has play who have appeared in a total of exactly 189 major league games between them (166 from one of them, Travis Jankowski), but conversely with a starting staff that is four/fifths aging or past-their-prime or never-were veterans, and that has on the staff a guy, Christian Bethancourt, that just last season started 35 games behind that plate and who pitched in two games while playing in the field in 71, not to mention 80 others over the prior three seasons.
So, yea, Clayton Kershaw, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Yasmani Grandal and the rest
(Save for Chris Hatcher) had great days yesterday, but wait a while before ordering World Series seats, or booking flights to Cleveland or Boston.
Sure, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges might all blossom into excellent everyday players by the end of the season, and Bethancourt might even become a major league pitcher, but as of now the San Diego 25-man roster barely resembles that of a major league team. Sure, there are some excellent players like Wil Myers, Yangervis Solarte, Erick Aybar and former Angels’ ace Jered Weaver who just might have something left, but overall, the Dodgers, and any pretty good team, should 1) Have little difficulty in games against the Padres, and 2) Not make too much of that. Remember, on opening day last season, the Dodgers defeated a better, more veteran Padres’ team, 15-0, and that game was in San Diego.
Tonight, the Dodgers will face another journeyman starter who has had little success through an eight-year career. 33-year-old lefty Clayton Richard did well with the Padres as a starter late last season (3-3. 2.52 ERA despite a 1.52 WHIP) after a bad few months in the Cubs’ bullpen (0-1, 6.43 ERA, 2.14 WHIP).
Against the left-hander, Dave Roberts will likely give Franklin Gutierrez the start in left field, but hopefully after his fine spring and great opening day, lefty-hitting Joc Peterson will remain in center, especially as so many indications are that Peterson will be the everyday guy out there and since the only real righty-hitting option Roberts has in center is light-hitting Kike Hernandez, the 25th guy to make the roster, which happened only
because of his versatility, certainly not because of his bat, being outhit significantly all through spring by Chris Taylor, who really earned that last roster spot.
Kenta Maeda will be starting for the Dodgers tonight, and he began his major league and Dodgers’ career almost exactly a year ago, on April 6, 2016, with six shoutout innings against the Padres, as the Dodgers coasted to a 7-0 win. That San Diego team featured veterans Matt Kemp, John Jay, and Derek Norris in the starting lineup, now replaced by Margot, Pence and Hedges.
But, then again, didn’t the Giants lose to the almost as bad Diamondbacks yesterday? That’s why we play the games.