The 2016 offseason is officially over as the Los Angeles Dodgers are in San Diego to face the Padres for Opening Day.
For the sixth consecutive time, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw gets the start on Opening Day. Kershaw has started the past five season openers and Los Angeles is 5-0 in those games. The only Dodgers pitcher with a longer streak of Opening Day starts is Don Sutton, who holds the record with seven straight from 1972-78.
Kershaw’s string of six starts to begin a season moves him into second place amongst active starting pitchers. Seattle Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez leads the Majors with eight consecutive Opening Day starts.
Kershaw wasn’t credited with a win and didn’t suffer a loss in three starts against San Diego last season. He had a 2.20 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in three outings, including 27 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched.
The left-handed ace made one start at Petco Park in 2015, allowing one run and collecting 11 strikeouts over 6.2 innings. Overall, Kershaw is 12-6 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 27 career starts against San Diego, including a 4-2 record, 2.13 ERA and 0.99 WHIP over 10 starts at Petco Park.
He had another outstanding season in 2015 when he finished third in the NL Cy Young voting, going 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and led the Majors in several advanced metrics. Chief among them were, FIP (1.99), xFIP (2.09), SIERA (2.24), strikeout percentage (33.8 percent) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (29.1 percent).
Kershaw also led the Majors with 232.2 innings pitched and compiled the first 300-strikeout season since 2002. He enjoyed a successful spring, throwing 23 innings and giving up five runs (1.96 ERA) on 23 hits, while striking out 25 and walking eight.
The Padres send 28-year-old Tyson Ross to the mound Monday. Ross finished last season 10-12 with a 3.26 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 112 ERA+ and 1.30 WHIP in a career-high 33 starts. He was 4-9 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 16 home starts in 2015.
Ross made two starts against the Dodgers last season, putting up noteworthy outings without earning a win. In the two starts, he allowed a combined 11 hits, three earned runs, walked five and had seven strikeouts in 12 innings pitched.
For his career, Ross is 0-6 with a 2.67 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 10 games (eight starts) against the Dodgers. With the Ross getting the start, Dodgers first-year manager Dave Roberts has six left-handed bats (including Kershaw) in his lineup.
Howie Kendrick is starting the season on the disabled list, so Chase Utley gets the start at second base and bats leadoff for the 12th time in his career. Utley has 19 hits in 47 at-bats (.404 batting average) batting leadoff in his career.
The 37 year old is coming off a spring in which he hit .304 in 55 at-bats. Utley is followed by rookie shortstop Corey Seager, who officially takes the reins as the everyday shortstop. He batted .337 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 27 games after being called up last season.
The middle of the order features Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig, much like it did in 2015. Former Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp bats third for the Padres.
Kemp batted .328 with a home run and eight RBIs in 16 games against the Dodgers last year. He had two hits and three RBIs in an Opening Day loss to the Dodgers.
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
RF: Yasiel Puig
LF: Carl Crawford
CF: Joc Pederson
C: A.J. Ellis
P: Clayton Kershaw
CF: Jon Jay
C: Derek Norris
RF: Matt Kemp
1B: Wil Myers
SS: Alexei Ramirez
3B: Yangervis Solarte
LF: Melvin Upton Jr.
2B: Cory Spangenberg
P: Tyson Ross