Dodgers-Padres preview: Opening Night is upon us

Mark Kolbe

With Kershaw and Kemp out, this opening season series at home may be a chance for the Padres to hold their ground against division rival Dodgers.

SB Nation 2014 MLB Preview

With the Dodgers best pitcher, lefty ace Clayton Kershaw, out and their best player, outfielder Matt Kemp, on the DL until Friday, now appears to be the best time for the Padres to pick up some wins against their division rivals. And they'll need every last win they can get if they hope to keep up with Los Angeles' high-priced roster in what will likely be a tight divisional race.

Thankfully for the Padres, they'll be attempting to preemptively gain ground behind the arm of Opening Night starter and staff ace Andrew Cashner, who is coming off easily his best season as a major leaguer. Pitching for the Dodgers will be second-year starter Hyun-Jin Ryu of Korea, who has already pitched five scoreless inning this season as part of the team's season-starting trip to Australia.

Unlike Cashner, Ryu was not the projected starter or even the contingency plan if Kershaw wasn't available. But with a lingering calf injury to No. 2 Zack Greinke putting him out of action until Tuesday, Ryu was given the nod. Along with Kemp, the Dodgers have had to deal with their share of injuries to begin the season, but none of them appear too serious or likely to keep them out of contention for a projected second straight division title.

The projections for the Padres are significantly more modest, with our own Steve Goldman believing that the best case scenario for them being "some of the older players get hot and find their way to contenders at the trade deadline in return for the players that will make this team interesting again" and their worst case something similar to the last two seasons of 76-86 baseball.

Regardless of where they may end up, however, hope always springs eternal on Opening Night.

Dodgers injuries

Clayton Kershaw, P; Matt Kemp, CF; Zack Greinke, P; Josh Beckett, P

Padres injuries

Josh Johnson, P

Projected lineups

Dodgers: Yasiel Puig, RF; Justin Turner, 2B; Hanley Ramirez, SS; Adrian Gonzalez, 1B; Scott Van Slyke, LF; Juan Uribe, 3B; Andre Ethier, CF; A.J. Ellis, C; Hyun-Jin Ryu, P

Padres: Everth Cabrera, SS; Will Venable, OF; Chase Headley, 3B; Jedd Gyorko, 2B; Yonder Alonso, 1B; Chris Denorfia, OF; Seth Smith, OF; Nick Hundley, C; Andrew Cashner, P

Game Date/Time: Sunday, March 30. 5:05 p.m. local, 8:05 p.m. ET

Venue: Petco Park, San Diego, CA

TV: ESPN (U.S. - English)

Radio: 570 Fox Sports L.A., KTNQ 1020 (Spanish)

Online: Watch ESPN App

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