We’ve been waiting for months. We’ve endured the heartbreaking and bitter-sweet days that followed Game 7. We’ve watched as one of the most talented classes of free agents sat quietly, waiting for the kinds of offers they’re worthy of to start rolling in.
Fans of the Dodgers have endured more in the past six months than many teams endure over the course of several years. So, congratulations my fellow Dodger fans, we made it.
Now, who’s ready for Opening Day? (*all over the country, hands reach high up to the sky*)
We may be ready, but do you know who else is? Clayton Kershaw. Over the course of 21-1/3 spring innings, Kershaw boasts a 0.00 ERA and only gave up 12 hits, 4 walks, all while striking out 23. Come Thursday, spring stats will mean next to nothing, but what they do provide is confidence. Kiké Hernandez‘s .327 spring batting average is proof of this.
After Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Angels, however, spring training will be over, and the games will begin to count. They’ll begin to count slowly, and surely until the summer arrives and we start to either worry or hope. In all likelihood, we’ll be doing both.
Here are the things to look for during Thursday’s first regular season game, and the three contests that follow:
1.) Clayton Kershaw—In what looks to be the least surprising decision Dave Roberts will make all season, Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound against San Francisco on Opening Day. Kershaw, who will take the mound with a .99 era over the course of his seven Opening Day starts, will face off against the Giants’ Ty Blach, who is pitching in the place of the injured Madison Bumgarner. Which brings us to…
2.) The San Francisco Giants—The Dodgers and Giants are huge rivals—this is known across the country—but oddly enough, it isn’t the most interesting part of this year’s Opening Day. In reality, the most interesting part apart from the reigning NL Champs is the Giants themselves. This past week, Bumgarner was placed on the DL and is projected to remain there until at least early-June. With the absence of Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija would be the obvious choice to pitch on Thursday but has been placed on the DL as well. These injuries are a big, big hurdle for the Giants, and whether or not they can overcome them remains to be seen. How they play this weekend, however, will most likely tell us everything we need to know.
3.) Matt Kemp—Matt Kemp deserves to be the Dodgers’ starting left fielder. Imagine an outfield made up of Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson. Kemp, who has four home runs and eight RBI this spring has proven himself to be not only the fan favorite to play left but the best choice, period.
Lastly, 4.) Third Base—Justin Turner has been placed on the DL. Though it’s not the most ideal situation, it won’t break the Dodgers. It’s already been announced that Logan Forsythe, who has experience at third, will be playing there rather than second base while Turner rehabs his wrist. Turner won’t be out long, and will hopefully be back before June, and the Dodgers can manage without him. It will be interesting, however, to see how the chemistry of the Dodgers is affected by the absence of Turner at the hot corner.
There’s a lot to look forward to in the next week, and the 6-7 months that will follow it. The 2018 season is about to begin
So, that last thing left to ask is this; Dodger fans, are you ready?
(FOLLOW SARAH ON TWITTER: @SARAHMANINGER)