Opening Day Catcher: A.J. Ellis, or Yasmani Grandal? Who Catches Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day?

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With opening day fast approaching, the Dodgers will have to decide which catcher will catch Clayton Kershaw on opening day against James Shields and the San Diego Padres on April 6. There are pros and cons for each backstop.

Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

On the one hand A.J. Ellis is more familiar with Kershaw and his pitching style. After all, A.J. has caught Kershaw 86 times in his career. Kershaw has a `1.94 ERA with A.J. catching him. He’s struck out 635 and held opponents to a .538 OPS against with A.J. behind the dish.

Yasmani Grandal has never caught Kershaw, but arguably swings a better bat. Ellis batted just .191 during an injury marred 2014 campaign. Grandal hit 15 home runs last season for San Diego. Would manager Don Mattingly go with a match-up? Neither catcher has had a good spring either. A.J. is batting just .179 (5 for 28) this spring with one home run. Grandal hasn’t fared much better, hitting just .205 (9 for 44) with one home run. 

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  • If we look at the numbers neither catcher has had any experience hitting Shields, so it’s a wash. Ellis is just 0 for 1, and Grandal is 0 for 3 lifetime. Since neither catcher has seen Shields much at all, you would think Mattingly would go with Ellis, since Kershaw is more comfortable pitching to him.

    Although, Grandal has to learn how to catch Kershaw, and the sooner he becomes more comfortable the better. Mattingly figures to platoon the two catchers, but Ellis should transition into more of a backup/mentoring role by the end of the season. Of course that’s only a best guess.

    A.J. and Kershaw are close friends, and match-ups against Shields are a wash. You would think for opening day that Mattingly would have A.J. behind the plate with Kershaw on the mound. We’ll have to wait ten more days to find out. Which catcher do you think will be catching Clayton Kershaw on opening day? Fill in your vote below, and we’ll tally up the votes on opening day.

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