Dodgers @ Rockies April 1, 2021: World Champion Dodger baseball is *really* back

Clayton Kershaw (Photo: Cody Bashore)

World Championship Los Angeles Dodgers baseball returns for another season. That feels really good to say. World Series Champion Clayton Kershaw — feels even better to say — takes on German Marquez in the unfriendly confines of Coors Field.

DodgersRockies
1:10 p.m.Denver, Colo.
RF BettsLF Tapia
SS Seager3B Fuentes
3B TurnerSS Story
CF BellingerRF Blackmon
1B Muncy1B Cron
LF TaylorC Diaz
2B Lux2B Owings
C BarnesCF Hampson
P Kershaw (L)P Marquez (R)

This will be Kershaw’s ninth Opening Day start for the Dodgers. It should be his 10th, but the pandemic and an injury prevented that in 2020. I looked at the previous eight last year. Surprisingly enough, this will be his first against the Rockies — either at Dodger Stadium or Coors Field. He owns an 11-5 career record with a 4.44 ERA in the hitter’s haven.

There has been just the slightest bit of concern about Kershaw in Spring Training. His velocity was down a bit and even he wasn’t satisfied with his performance. However, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN makes an interesting point.

I don’t think Kershaw is going to go out and be the 2014 version of himself, but it’s probably best not to fret about Spring Training numbers.

The only surprise — and it really shouldn’t be — is Austin Barnes drawing the Opening Day start over Will Smith. Barnes is essentially Kershaw’s personal catcher, so this will be the norm for the foreseeable future.

The Rockies’ lineup is missing Nolan Arenado, who is now a Cardinal. They still have Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon, but the rest of the lineup isn’t nearly as formidable as it has been in years past.

——

The Opening Day roster was unofficially set a few days ago. There wasn’t much suspense. Here’s how it shook out.

Rotation
Clayton Kershaw
Trevor Bauer
Walker Buehler
Julio Urias
Dustin May

Bullpen
Scott Alexander
Tony Gonsolin
Victor Gonzalez
Kenley Jansen
Corey Knebel
Jimmy Nelson
David Price
Blake Treinen

Catchers
Austin Barnes
Will Smith

Infielders
Gavin Lux
Max Muncy
Edwin Rios
Corey Seager
Justin Turner

Outfielders
Cody Bellinger
Mookie Betts
AJ Pollock

Infielders/Outfielders
Matt Beaty
Zach McKinstry
Chris Taylor

As expected, Brusdar Graterol and Joe Kelly begin the season on the injured list.

——

And for some extra content in this Game Thread, here are my season predictions.

American League
East: Yankees
Central: Twins
West: A’s
Wild Cards: Blue Jays, White Sox
League Champion: Twins

MVP: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Cy Young: Gerrit Cole
ROY: Andrew Vaughn

National League
East: Braves
Central: Brewers
West: Dodgers
Wild Cards: Padres, Nationals
League Champion: Dodgers

MVP: Juan Soto
Cy Young: Jacob deGrom
ROY: Dylan Carlson

World Series Champion: Dodgers

As if I’d choose anyone else. And if the Dodgers repeat, it’ll be the first time a team has done that since the 1999-2000 Yankees, who also won it in 1998 and lost in Game 7 in 2001. That was quite a run.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.