The Los Angeles Dodgers begin their quest to win the 2017 World Series on Monday, opening up a four-game set against the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers open the season at home, sending their ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound for a record tying seventh time, and their first without legendary announcer Vin Scully behind the microphone.
Kershaw will face off against Jhoulys Chacin. The Padres veteran right-hander has failed to have a winning season since 2013, when he was 14-10 with a 3.47 ERA. His career has been marred by injuries, made evident recently by him being released both by the Rockies and Indians during his 2015 campaign. He split time with both the Angels and Braves last year. Chacin is hoping to use his slider more to his benefit this season.
“My slider has been working well against lefties, and I want to keep it working during the season,” Chacin told members of the Padres media recently.
Over his eight year career, batters are hitting a mere .147 against his slider.
Tuesday’s matchup will feature Japanese righty Kenta Maeda against lefty Clayton Richard. The 6’5″ Richard, who spent a year and a half with the Chicago Cubs, rejoined the Padres midseason last year, going 3-3 with a 2.52 ERA. He is 53-53 lifetime over eight major league seasons. In his last spring training start, he failed to make two full innings, throwing 55 pitches and allowing six hits.
Wednesday will be southpaw Rich Hill against right-hander Trevor Cahill. Another pitcher who was with the Cubs last season, Cahill was mostly in the bullpen, appearing 50 times and finishing the year at 4-4 with a 2.74 ERA. Cahill ranked number two in the entire Cactus League in slugging percentage against, and third overall in opponents average.
The four game series winds up on Thursday, with Brandon McCarthy facing off against fellow right-hander Jered Weaver. Having spent all of his career with the Anaheim Angels, Weaver signed as a free agent with the Padres during the offseason. The former AL All-Star and wins leader is coming off a 12-12 season, where he sported a 5.06 ERA. Weaver was dealing with a bit of dead arm during spring training, but is still slated at the Padres number four starter.
While the Padres are not expected to make any waves in the NL West this season, they do have some players to watch. Wil Myers is coming off a very good spring training, where he hit .407 with five doubles and four homers. The former 2013 Rookie Of The Year is following-up a better 2016 season, after having had two seasons dealing with injuries. Look for him to continue his All-Star form.
2017 will be a rebuilding year for the Padres, and three of of their players were just named to their first-ever Opening Day rosters: catcher Austin Hedges, and outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot. Renfroe is a potential Rookie of the Year candidate. According to MLB Pipeline, Margot and Renfroe are currently listed as the Padres’ No. 1 and No. 3 prospects, respectively.
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