Opening Day Preview: Dodgers Begin Season Vs. Rockies With World Series Or Bust Mentality

The Los Angeles Dodgers begin their 2022 season Friday with an Opening Day matchup against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. This is the second consecutive time the Dodgers open their schedule on the road versus the Rockies.

Their first step toward living up to World Series expectations begins with Walker Buehler taking the mound. He is only the fourth different starter to take the mound on Opening Day for the Dodgers since 2011, with Clayton Kershaw accounting for nine of those outings.

The Dodgers were 7-2 with the future Hall of Famer starting on Opening Day, and it seems as if this is a passing of the torch game with Buehler getting the nod.

Buehler finished the 2021 season as one of baseball’s best pitchers with a 2.47 ERA, 3.16 FIP, and 5.5 WAR. He also reached a personal goal of 200 innings for the first time, finishing at 207.2 innings pitched.

The 27-year-old isn’t a stranger to big moments either, with 15 career postseason starts and a 2.94 ERA in 79.2 innings. Buehler understands the magnitude of getting the ball on Opening Day and what that honor means in the Dodgers organization.

L.A. is once again at the top of pre-season power rankings, backed by an already incredibly talented roster that now includes 2020 National League MVP Freddie Freeman in the lineup.

It is difficult to imagine a team that won 106 games in 2021 getting much better, but it isn’t every day a generational hitter like Freeman hits the open market.

The 12-year veteran slots right into the second spot in the Dodgers lineup that is projected to win around 100 games this season and according to nearly every simulation, also have the highest chance to win the World Series of any MLB team.

Manager Dave Roberts has also said that the goal once again for this Dodgers team is to win in the postseason and has gone as far as saying the team will win the World Series, barring injuries to L.A.’s pitching staff.

The Rockies counter with Kyle Freeland who is making his second career Opening Day start. Freeland is a lifetime 3-7 with a 4.09 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 16 starts against the Dodgers and was surprised when Rockies manager Buddy Black appointed him the Opening Day starter.

Freeland takes on a Dodgers lineup that consists of 10 players projected for at least league-average production, including five of them at All-Star to MVP levels.

Colorado made a splash of their own in the offseason by signing former NL MVP Kris Bryant to a seven-year, $182 million deal. Bryant figures to put up solid numbers in Coors Field after posting a wRC+ better than 120 in all but one season in his career.

Bryant had spent his entire career with the Cubs before a trade-deadline deal to the San Francisco Giants, and over 144 games in 2021, Bryant hit .265/.353/.481 with 25 home runs and 10 stolen bases, seeing time at third base and in the outfield.

Dodgers lineup

RF: Mookie Betts
1B: Freddie Freeman
SS: Trea Turner
DH: Justin Turner
3B: Max Muncy
C: Will Smith
LF: Chris Taylor
CF: Cody Bellinger
2B: Gavin Lux
P: Walker Buehler

Rockies lineup

RF: Charlie Blackmon
LF: Kris Bryant
2B: Brendan Rodgers
1B: C.J. Cron
3B: Ryan McMahon
DH: Connor Joe
CF: Randal Grichuk
C: Elias Diaz
SS: Jose Iglesias
P: Kyle Freeland

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