MLB Opening Day 2023: Dodgers look to continue winning ways in NL West
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Dodgers won 111 games in 2022. It was the highest win total for any National League team since the Chicago Cubs won an all-time record 116 games in 1906. But, despite their historic season, the Dodgers ultimately came up short, losing to the San Diego Padres in the NLDS. For what it's worth, the Cubs didn't win it all in 1906, either, but they did make it to the World Series and eventually came back and won the whole thing the following season.
Before the 2022 season, manager Dave Roberts "guaranteed" the Boys in Blue would win it all. Maybe he was just a year early in his prediction. Despite just one World Series Championship since 1988, during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Dodgers have been nothing but dominant for the better part of the last two decades. In the last 20 seasons, the Dodgers have finished first in NL West in 12 of them. But getting to the top of the mountain has eluded the team on multiple occasions.
Either way, the Dodgers open up the 2023 campaign at Dodger Stadium on Thursday against another NL West foe in the Arizona Diamondbacks. Here's everything to know heading into the new season.
SUGGESTED: Dodgers' Dave Roberts guarantees World Series title in 2022: 'Put it on record'
Julio Urías Urias of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during in game one of the National League Division Series against the San Diego Padres on October 11, 2022 (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Opening Day Game
- Opponent: Arizona Diamondbacks
- Location: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
- Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
- Probable Starters: Julio Urías (LAD) v Zac Gallen (ARI)
After a strong showing for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, left-hander Julio Urías will take the mound for the Dodgers on Opening Day — the first Opening Day start of his young career. Urías is coming off a stellar 2022 campaign, where he notched a 2.16 ERA and 166 strikeouts across 31 starts. With those numbers, Urías finished third in the 2022 NL Cy Young voting and even got some votes for NL MVP.
"I’m very happy and thankful to the team for the opportunity," Urías told the Orange County Register after being named starter. "With the talent in our rotation, it’s an important role. That they’ve chosen me, I was really thankful and happy."
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Urías will go up against Zac Gallen for the D-Backs in one of the best starting pitching matchups of Opening Day. Gallen also had a great season last year, finishing fifth in Cy Young voting. Thursday will also be his first-ever Opening Day start.
The Diamondbacks as a whole look stronger than they did when they finished fourth in the NL West in 2022. With the additions of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and top prospect Corbin Carroll, the division projects to be even tighter in 2023.
Opening Day Roster
While the lineup for Thursday's opening game against the DBacks has not yet been announced, here's how the Dodgers' roster projects to stack up on Opening Day, according to MLB.com.
- Catcher: Will Smith, Austin Barnes
- First base: Freddie Freeman
- Second base: Miguel Vargas
- Shortstop: Miguel Rojas
- Third base: Max Muncy
- Outfield: Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson, Jason Heyward, David Peralta, James Outman
- Designated hitter: J.D. Martinez
- Starting pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Noah Syndergaard, Dustin May, Michael Grove (added after Ryan Peopiot was placed on IL Thursday)
- Relief pitcher: Alex Vesia, Evan Phillips, Shelby Miller, Brusdar Graterol, Caleb Ferguson, Yency Almonte, Phil Bickford, Andre Jackson
As with every season, some of these spots are not what the team might have envisioned when they entered camp for Spring Training. Gavin Lux was projected to be the team's starting shortstop after losing Trea Turner in free agency to the reigning NL champion Philadelphia Phillies. But he went down with an ACL tear early in Spring Training, giving the spot to Miguel Rojas. And Ryan Pepiot now takes a spot in the rotation with Tony Gonsolin projected to be out until late April.
SUGGESTED: Gavin Lux tears ACL, likely out for 2023 season
Cody Bellinger #24 of the Chicago Cubs. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
The biggest loss from the 2022 club is shortstop Trea Turner, who signed an 11-year, $300 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason, which wildly enough makes him only the fifth-highest paid shortstop in the league. Turner's loss is exacerbated by Gavin Lux's torn ACL, which means that 34-year-old free agent signing Miguel Rojas will take over the shortstop job in LA.
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Former MVP Cody Bellinger said goodbye to the team that drafted him, signing a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs this offseason. Bellinger has struggled mightily in the last two seasons, batting .193 in 410 plate appearances..
And fan favorite Justin Turner declined a club option in the offseason, and headed to the Boston Red Sox on a one-year deal. Turner, a Lakewood native, spent nearly a decade with the Dodgers. At 38, he projects to be the DH for the Red Sox in 2023.
Pitcher Noah Syndergaard of the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
After splitting 2022 between Anaheim and Philadelphia, pitcher Noah Syndergaard made the cross-county journey yet again to join the Dodgers' rotation in 2023. Thor started in 25 games between the Angels and Phillies last season, setting a career low in strikeouts per nine innings. The 30-year-old former flamethrower has seen a substantial dip in his average fastball velocity over the last few seasons.
J.D. Martinez will fill in the designated hitter spot for the Dodgers this season, signing a one-year, $10 million contract in the offseason. The five-time All-Star is now 35 years old, but was the image of consistency with the Boston Red Sox, batting near .300 in his five seasons in Boston.
There have been a lot of changes between the end of the 2022 season and now, some expected, some not so much. But despite everything in flux, the Dodgers are still one of the favorites to bring home the Commissioner's Trophy in 2023. According to MGM, the Dodgers are tied with the New York Yankees at +800 odds to win the World Series, behind only the Atlanta Braves, and the defending champs the Houston Astros.
Can the Dodgers put it together to bring home another championship and fulfill Dave Roberts' 2022 prediction? Time will tell. For now, the Dodgers turn their eye to the Diamondbacks on Thursday,