Other than naming Clayton Kershaw the starter for Opening Day and confirming the club would operate with a five-man rotation to begin the season, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had not offered many details on order or who would replace David Price.
That changed after the Dodgers’ final exhibition game — a win against the L.A. Angels — when Roberts announced Kershaw would be followed by Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Julio Urias in the Opening Series with the San Francisco Giants.
The way the Dodgers had aligned their starters during Summer Camp, the conceivable order initially appeared to be Kershaw, Stripling, Urias and Wood. Though, Urias and Wood were on the same throwing schedule and thus easily interchangeable.
As for filling the void created when Price opted out, Stripling had long been the apparent frontrunner. His work during the MLB shutdown period, coupled with the late arrival of Tony Gonsolin, and Dustin May not being as stretched out, put Stripling a step ahead.
He also performed well and continued to flash an improved changeup that was the byproduct of a new grip. It’s a bit of redemption for Stripling, who believed Wood and Urias were named to the rotation a bit early back in spring.
“I was disappointed at the time because I remember wanting to feel like I had an opportunity to go earn a rotation spot, and I was being told that I would get that opportunity,” Stripling said earlier this month. “But Urias was announced before we even played a game in spring and Woody was announced a few days later.
“I felt that I didn’t really get a fair shake on trying to earn that spot. That’s not saying Julio and Alex didn’t deserve it. Heck man, we’ve got seven or eight guys that can be in our starting rotation, so it’s certainly not a shot at them. It’s just I expected it to be more of an ongoing battle for a position throughout Spring Training and it was announced just a few games in.”
Walker, Texas hurler
The Dodgers have an off day Monday but won’t use that to skip over Walker Buehler in the rotation. Instead, he’ll face the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, July 28. Kershaw is tentatively scheduled to start opposite Justin Verlander the following night.
The matchup is surrounded by plenty of anticipation because of history between the two teams in 2017 World Series. Some of that is lost on Buehler, however, as he was not playing for the Dodgers at the time.
“I think the guys that were there and on that team obviously feel even stronger than some of us who weren’t there,” Buehler said before Roberts officially set the rotation. “But there’s some sense of pride in going there and trying to play good baseball to come out of there with a couple wins.
“I think every game is important, especially in this format. So I think every game is huge and those are no different.”
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