Dodgers Opening Day Preview: Kershaw And Ellis Form Battery Vs. Padres

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Although manager Don Mattingly didn’t explicitly name Pederson the club’s starting center field, he strongly intimated as much prior to Saturday’s game. Sure enough, the 22-year-old rookie, who started all three games of the Freeway Series, is manning center field Monday.

Clayton Kershaw is making his fifth-consecutive Opening Day start — good for second-most in Dodgers’ franchise history trailing Don Sutton’s seven. Through his previous four inaugural starts, the Dodger ace is 3-0 with 26 strikeouts and has allowed just one run in 25.2 innings.

Kershaw put together a strong spring, going 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA and had a team-best 22 strikeouts in six starts (22.1 innings). While the numbers are a break from a succession of poor Spring Trainings, Kershaw put little stock in his success.

The reigning National League MVP is a career 12-6 with a 2.25 ERA against the Padres and is coming off a year in which he was perfect against them — 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA in three starts; San Diego batters managed a scant .110/.161/.146 slash line against Kershaw last season.

For Shields, this marks his seventh career Opening Day start. His previous six outings haven’t been a walk in the park as he’s 1-2 with a 5.05 ERA. Given that this is Shields’ first season in the NL, the Dodgers have little experience against him; he threw three scoreless innings and had five strikeouts in a Spring Training start on March 12.

However, Kendrick has found decent success when facing the former Tampa Bay and Kansas City ace, batting .483/.500/.793 in 30 career plate appearances. Adrian Gonzalez is a lifetime .320/.379/.440 hitter in 29 plate appearances against Shields.

The Southern California native faced the Dodgers for the first and only time of his career last season and earned a no-decision after pitching seven innings and allowing four runs.

Although Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Yasmani Grandal would not be excluded from catching Kershaw, A.J. Ellis gets the club’s first start of the season at catcher. As expected, Jimmy Rollins is batting leadoff, and Yasiel Puig (second) is followed by Adrian Gonzalez in the lineup, which Mattingly is in favor of.

Dodgers Lineup:

SS: Jimmy Rollins

RF: Yasiel Puig

1B: Adrian Gonzalez

2B: Howie Kendrick

LF: Carl Crawford

3B: Juan Uribe

CF: Joc Pederson

C: A.J. Ellis

P: Clayton Kershaw

Padres Lineup:

CF: Wil Myers

C: Derek Norris

RF: Matt Kemp

LF: Justin Upton

3B: Will Middlebrooks

2B: Jedd Gyorko

1B: Yonder Alonso

SS: Clint Barmes

P: James Shields


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Written by Staff Writer


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