The Los Angeles Dodgers are the defending World Series champions on Opening Day for the first time since 1989. The 2021 MLB season is already underway and will continue as the Dodgers visit the Colorado Rockies later on Thursday.
Manager Dave Roberts revealed the lineup card for Thursday at 1:05 p.m. PST and Dodgers fans can sure get used to this.
Mookie Betts at the top and Clayton Kershaw on the bump. Does it get any better than this?
Some notable inclusions here feature Chris Taylor in left field (AJ Pollock is out of the lineup) and Austin Barnes behind the plate (Will Smith is also out). Taylor’s bat was on fire all spring so Roberts is rolling with the hot hand and fans are away Barnes/Smith will be generously sharing reps. Plus, Barnes is all but officially Kershaw’s personal catcher. And with no DH this year, Smith can’t be in the lineup when Barnes is playing defense.
Everything else is as advertised. Gavin Lux faces a big campaign ahead as he figures to be the starting second baseman of the future or a replacement for Corey Seager if the veteran leaves in free agency. Lux was among the other Dodgers who had an impressive spring and should benefit from the stacked group of hitters around him.
Kershaw will be making his ninth Opening Day start after another season in which he battled back issues. The left-hander is also entering a contract year and said he has no plans to retire, so that’ll be another big narrative for fans to closely monitor throughout 2021.
Now with a World Series under his belt, perhaps we can expect an even more relaxed Kershaw, which is seriously dangerous for opposing lineups. As for his success on Opening Day, the Dodgers are 7-1 in his starts, and the lefty is 5-1 himself with a with a 1.05 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 51.2 innings pitched.
Against the lowly Rockies? It’s safe to predict another dominant outing. Tack on another win, a lower ERA, and more strikeouts, thank you very much.