Dodgers @ Rockies April 8, 2022: Buehler vs. Freeland on Opening Day

Dodger baseball is back. After a winter that saw a (stupid) lockout and the Dodgers replacing a homegrown left-handed hitter with a hometown left-handed hitter, we back. And the expectations for the Dodgers are sky high.

DodgersRockies
1:10 p.m.Denver, Colo.
RF BettsRF Blackmon
1B FreemanLF Bryant
SS Turner2B Rogers
DH Turner1B Cron
3B Muncy3B McMahon
C SmithDH Joe
LF TaylorCF Grichuk
CF BellingerC Diaz
2B LuxSS Iglesias
P Buehler (R)P Freeland (L)

Walker Buehler is making his first career Opening Day start. He takes up the mantle from Clayton Kershaw, who had started nine of the previous 11 Opening Days. His start last season in Colorado was, easily, the worst of his Hall of Fame career: 5 2/3 IP, 10 H, 6/5 R/ER, 1 BB, 2 K. Buehler has elevated himself to the top of the Dodgers’ rotation, and rightfully so. He’s coming off a career-best season in 2021 that saw him pitch to a 2.47 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 19.6 K-BB% and 207 2/3 innings pitched. He’s one of the favorites for the NL Cy Young award and it should be fun to watch him take the next step in his age-27 season.

The lineup, as expected, is stacked. I might swap Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner, but lineup construction, mostly, doesn’t matter. I’m a little surprised to see Gavin Lux get the start at second base over Hanser Alberto against the lefty Kyle Freeland, but he needs to show he can hit lefties at some point.

The Rockies made one of the biggest surprise signings of the offseason in Kris Bryant. Good for them for trying, but at the same time, it seems like a move a team on the cusp of a playoff berth would make. Then again, there’s an extra Wild Card spot this season, so maybe they, somehow, sneak into that. They also needed to replace Trevor Story, who signed with Boston. A late-spring trade of Ramiel Tapia landed them Randal Grichuk to be their center fielder and they locked up Ryan McMahon to a 6-year, $70 million deal last month.

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The Opening Day roster was announced yesterday. There weren’t many, if any, surprises.

Rotation
Walker Buehler
Julio Urias
Clayton Kershaw
Andrew Heaney
Tony Gonsolin

Bullpen
Tyler Anderson
Justin Bruihl
Brusdar Graterol
Daniel Hudson
Craig Kimbrel
Evan Phillips
David Price
Blake Treinen
Alex Vesia
Mitch White

Catchers
Austin Barnes
Will Smith

Infielders
Hanser Alberto
Freddie Freeman
Max Muncy
Edwin Rios
Justin Turner
Trea Turner

Outfielders
Cody Bellinger
Mookie Betts

Infielders/Outfielders
Gavin Lux
Chris Taylor

Injured List
Caleb Ferguson
Victor Gonzalez
Tommy Kahnle
Dustin May (60-day)

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If you missed the news, Joe Buck leaving FOX Sports for ESPN means Joe Davis has been elevated to the lead MLB play-by-play person. He’ll call all the big games, including the World Series.

Could not be happier for him.

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For the fives of you who care, here are my predictions or the 2022 season.

2022 MLB Season Predictions

American League
East: Blue Jays
Central: White Sox
West: Mariners
Wild Cards: Rays, Astros, Tigers
League Champion: Blue Jays

MVP: Wander Franco
Cy Young: Kevin Gausman
ROY: Bobby Witt Jr.

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

MVP: Juan Soto
Cy Young: Max Fried
ROY: Seiya Suzuki

World Series Champion: Dodgers

It’s hard to pick against the Dodgers, even if the starting rotation isn’t as strong as it has been in the past. They could (and probably will) make midseason trade for a starter (hi, Rich Hill, Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer) to improve that area of the team — if necessary. But there are a lot of other interesting teams in both leagues. It should be an interesting 2022 campaign.

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Consider buying a shirt? It worked in 2020.

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Let’s go!

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. 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.