The big day is here; for the first time in far too long we actually need to think about an upcoming MLB matchup. A real matchup. A matchup that has more consequences than figuring out who is getting tossed unceremoniously back down to the minors. Welcome to baseball.
Either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to be the first team to notch an MLB win in 2014, and it’s going to be in the most spectacular of fashions at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia. Have you seen the pictures the teams have been taking during the trip? So many koalas.
Although Los Angeles is the clear favorite to win the NL West (or NL period) this year, fans can still look forward to an intensely ceremonious matchup. Here’s how it breaks down.
On the mound, the Dodgers will (obviously) be sending out newly-wealthy ace Clayton Kershaw for his fourth-straight Opening Day start. The 2013 Cy Young winner has had a rough spring, but to be fair he had a pretty terrible showing during spring training last year as well and went on to win the Cy Young.
Arizona has Wade Miley throwing, but it’s a bittersweet start for Miley and the club; Diamondbacks ace Patrick Corbin had just been diagnosed with a season-ending elbow injury just before the trip, forcing Miley in as the second option. He’s saying all the right things about being up for the challenge, though, and will surely throw with a chip on his shoulder.
The Diamondbacks have a few new toys to roll out, most notably slugger Mark Trumbo who they picked up over the winter. The man can flat-out hit home runs—he has 95 of them over the past three seasons. Opening day will be a great litmus test for D-back fans to see if they can break over 81-81 hump from last year with some additional power hitting. The loss of Corbin on the mound still bites (like a snake…get it? Diamondbacks?), but the club is hoping the addition of pitcher Bronson Arroyo can help the staff stay steady.
For the Dodgers Andre Ethier will be making his eight straight opening day start, this time playing center field after impressing during spring training. Is this the beginning of his road back to the starting three in the outfield, an Andre-aissance of sorts? Seems likely. It also looks like, based on the current roster, Dodger second baseman Alex Guerrero didn’t impress enough during the spring and will be headed back down to the minors—and at the very least not playing in this game. Oldy-but-goody Scott Van Slyke has proven he is no has-been and earned a starting spot in the outfield as well. Excitingly, Adrian Gonzales has, apparently, found a way to grit it out and recover from the “tight back” he aggravated during sightseeing and will start at first base. What a trooper.
I’m giving the edge to the Dodgers in this one. Why? Because they are putting the team they want on the field, including the best pitcher in baseball. The Diamondbacks are facing the NL favorites with a newly minted ace who was, in all honesty, their second choice. The Sydney Cricket Ground winds are also tricky about when they do or don’t want to allow home runs, so Trumbo likely won’t be getting the chance to show off his power this go-round.
Final: Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 1