Dodgers News: Catching Depth, Opening Day Starter Announcement & More

ClaytonKershaw

As Dennis stated in his column yesterday, we are now halfway through Cactus League play. The Dodgers will open their season Thursday, March 26 at home against the San Francisco Giants.

It is also the time when many cuts are being made to the major league rosters. Last Thursday, Josiah Gray and Edwin Uceta were sent to the minor league side of camp. Saturday, RHP Mitchell White and LHP Victor Gonzalez were also optioned there. They were followed yesterday by RHP Josh Sborz who was optioned, and by Kyle Lobstein, Tyler Gilbert, Marshall Kasowski, Jordan Sheffield, Stevie Berman and Cristian Santana, who were all reassigned to the minors. There are now 51 players in camp, 23 pitchers and 28 position players.

We’ve spent some time talking about how much depth the Dodgers have in their organization. On yesterday’s broadcast, commentator Orel Hershiser mentioned that the Dodgers will be carrying two catchers, which of course is normal, but that they would be splitting playing time pretty equally, instead of the more common 70/30 or 80/20 split.

Last season, Austin Barnes found himself mired in an offensive slump, which then catapulted rookie Will Smith into the spotlight. Smith took the league by storm and Barnes found himself in Triple-A Oklahoma City working on his swing. But then Barnes worked on it, and Smith came crashing back down to earth offensively. When asked where manager Dave Roberts thought where Smith’s offense would be this season, he said “somewhere in the middle” of the two extremes of last season.

What would somewhere in the middle look like? Smith could settle into being a .250 hitter with power. And with a lineup as potent as the Dodgers’, that’s not too shabby. For the converse, the Dodgers would be thrilled if Barnes could get his average up to that. Roberts did talk on how Barnes’ defensive play will get him into the lineup more often, while it will be Smith who is the primary catcher.

While neither catcher will be an offensive juggernaut, as previously stated, the Dodgers don’t need them to be. Los Angeles is blessed to have two catchers that are more than capable of handling the Dodgers’ dynamic and diverse pitching staff. Less wear and tear on both Smith and Barnes will only benefit all parties down the line because as we continue to stress all season, the production in October is what will really matter for this team.

Today, Roberts announced that the Opening Day Starter will be Clayton Kershaw. This is Kershaw’s ninth Opening Day start in the last 10 years. He missed last year’s due to injury. The rotation to follow him will be Walker Buehler, David Price, Julio Urias and Alex Wood.

Our thoughts are with former Dodgers prospect and current Texas Ranger Willie Calhoun as he recovers from his injury incurred yesterday in game against the Dodgers. Calhoun was hit in the jaw by an errant pitch off the hand of Urias and was taken to the hospital via helicopter.