D-backs and Dodgers Opening Series Preview: Matchups and Storylines

Well, here we go. It’s finally time for baseball that counts. We’ve been waiting for this since... September 12th last year.

Unless you have been living under a rock for a last six months, you probably know what's happening tonight. D-backs baseball down under with that team from Los Angeles. All the waiting, speculating and talking is over. It's time to get the season started.

For Diamondbacks fans, this series has been marked on their calendars for some time. I know I can't be the only one who would love to go down there and take two from the Dodgers to start out the season. Lets take a quick look at a couple things for the Opening Series.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1

D-backs: Wade Miley, 10-10, 3.55 ERA, 147 K's (2013 Stats)

Miley is replacing an injured Patrick Corbin, who is likely to miss the rest of the season with a UCL tear, while holding a career 3.59 era with a 3-1 record in eight games against the Dodgers. Miley ended last year pitching the best on the team and carried that into Spring Training this year with a 1.29 ERA over 14 innings. This game could be key for Miley in seeing if he will start off the year strong and confident.

Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, 16-9, 1.83 ERA, 232 K's (2013 Stats)

We all know this guy, the reigning CY Young winner who seems to have the whole league figured out. But for some reason we always seem to find a way to beat Kershaw, as he was 0-1 against us with a 2.11 ERA in three starts against us last year. Kershaw didn't have a very strong spring but he didn't have a good one in 2013 either, and we all saw how that turned out. It'll be key for the D-backs hitters to get on Kershaw early in the game - because if he establishes a rhythm, then he'll be tough to break.

Game 2

Dbacks: Trevor Cahill, 8-10, 3.99 ERA, 102 Ks (2013 Stats)

I won't lie: when I looked at the announced starters for this series and saw Cahill's name I was a little puzzled as Cahill really struggled last year. However, Cahill is the perfect candidate to pitch this game as Trevor owns the Dodgers; he is a perfect 5-0 with a 2.20 ERA in nine starts against them in a D-backs uniform. Cahill's pitching scares some D-backs fans anytime he's on the mound, but he seems to have it figured it out against the Dodgers.

Dodgers: Hyun- Jin Ryu, 14-8, 3.00, 154 Ks (2013 Stats)

When you look at the numbers, Ryu had a pretty stellar rookie season in his first year in the bigs after coming over from Japan. However, like Kershaw he wasn't as hot against the Dbacks with a 1-2 record and 4.65 ERA in five starts against the D-backs last year. It's hard to predict what you'll get in particular out of Ryu in this game; there were a couple starts where he was lights out against us last year in comparison to the other ones. One thing I would like to see is him not beating us with his bat again, that's for sure.

Storylines

New Guys

We finally get to see the new guys play when it counts. We get to look at them in spring training for the first time but it's just not the same as watching them in a game that actually matters. One thing I want to see is if we get to see Addison Reed close out a game for the D-backs. Reed was this week announced the closer over J.J. Putz, after coming over this offseason from the White Sox via trade. We also get our much anticipated first look at Mark Trumbo in the lineup, and word is the ball travels well in Sydney. Will we get the pleasure of seeing a Trumbomb down under?

Shortstop Battle

One of the biggest storylines in Spring Training was the shortstop battle between Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius. Owings looks as if he may have won that battle, as he is getting the start tonight. However, Kirk Gibson is still gonna keep it a little interesting for us as Gregorius will be following Owings by starting Game 2.

Star Power

All the eyes in baseball will be on the amount of stars being put on showcase in this series. For Arizona it's Paul Goldschmidt, who has been a big ambassador for this series and will be looking to follow up his terrific year last year by starting out this one with a bang. On the other side Los Angeles has one of the biggest names in baseball with Yasiel Puig, the Cuban sensation from last year who we all love to hate. It'll be interesting to see if Puig has toned down his erratic play from last year coming into this year.

Overall Outlook

Much criticism has come concerning these two games down in Australia, with some questioning whether they should count or not, and their toll on the players. However, at the end of the day, they'll still be part of the standings come September. I know any Arizona fan would like nothing more than to go into Australia and sweep the Dodgers, who seem to be everyone's favorite to win it all this year, in front of the world. There may be no bad blood carried forward from last year, as neither teams wants to embarrass the game in Australia. But there's no doubt that - despite what they may say - the Diamondbacks haven't forgotten about what happened in 2013.

All in all, I'm really optimistic about the D-backs chances to go in here and make a statement, starting off the year - and who can blame me? It's the start of a fresh new season: if you can't be hopeful on Opening Day, when can you?

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