THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:
MLB OPENING DAY:
DODGERS vs. SAN DIEGO
Details/TV: Dodger Stadium, Monday at 1 p.m., SportsNet L.A.
ANGELS at SEATTLE
Details/TV: Monday at 1 p.m., Fox Sports West:
How much was James Shields on the Dodgers’ radar this last off season? The former Hart High of Santa Clarita star, who has already pitched in two World Series for two different teams in his nine big-league seasons, was one of the best arms available this past free-agent window. Things became a bit more curious as December rolled into January, and then early February – no one was biting. Finally, the bold-move San Diego Padres decided to snatch up the 33-year-old in a four-year, $75 million deal. And look where he’ll make his 2015 debut? “That was the only stadium, growing up, that I went to,” said Shields of Dodger Stadium. “It’s definitely going to be pretty surreal. But I’m sure once the game starts, I’ll lock in.” And tune out all the family members he has there? The former ace of the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals makes his seventh Opening Day start, although he’s just 1-2 with a 5.05 ERA in those appearances. San Diego, for all it did in adding Shields, plus a new outfield of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers, only tacked on an addition $10 million to their 2014 $90 million payroll. That was until the team made another bold move Sunday in adding All-Star reliever Craig Kimbrel. Think the Dodgers couldn’t use Kimbrel right about now, too? The Dodgers and their record-breaking $272 million roster send reigning NL Cy Young and MVP winner Clayton Kershaw to make his fifth straight opening day start. He’s got a 3-0 record in Game 1 appearances, including a win in Melbourne, Australia last season. His only opening day non-win was a no-decision in the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory over the Padres at Petco Park in 2012.
Over in the AL West, the Seattle Mariners have gained a lot of attention as a playoff contender, led by former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez. He’s making his seventh straight Opening Day start and eighth overall, posing a 5-0 mark and 1.52 ERA in those games. With Jered Weaver starting for the Angels, this is a rematch of the 2014 Opening Day, when the Mariners won, 10-3, in Seattle as Hernandez struck out 11 in six innings. Weaver struck out six in his six innings but gave up four runs (three earned) and three walks. Weaver, beginning his 10th big-league season, makes his sixth straight Opening Day start, and seventh in his career, the most in franchise history. He’s 3-2 in Opening Day.
The Dodgers-Padres series continues Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 p.m., SportsNet L.A. The Dodgers then go to Arizona for three games (Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.)
The Angels-Mariners series continues Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West. The Angels’ home opener is Friday at 7 p.m. (FSW) against defending AL champion Kansas City, with games Saturday (6 p.m., FS1) and Sunday (12:30 p.m., FSW).
Also: Live MLB coverage of Monday’s Opening Day has Toronto at New York Yankees (10 a.m., ESPN), New York Mets at Washington (1 p.m., ESPN), Cleveland at Houston (4 p.m., ESPN) and San Francisco at Arizona (7 p.m., ESPN2).
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