UPDATE: It’s official, Zito will start Game 1.
There’s no official word yet on the Giants’ rotation for the World Series, but Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that Barry Zito is likely to get the call for Game 1 against the Tigers.
He’d face Justin Verlander in a matchup of former Cy Young winners (which sounds perfectly normal except for the part about Zito winning his in 2002).
That represents a helluva turnaround for a guy who was left off the postseason roster during the Giants’ run to the World Series in 2010, but Zito came up huge with 7.2 shutout innings in Game 5 of the NLCS and according to Baggarly “word around the team is that Zito deserves the honor.”
Zito struggled against right-handed hitters all season, allowing them to bat .281 with an .823 OPS (compared to .209 with a .559 OPS versus lefties), so matching up with a Detroit lineup that includes righties Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Delmon Young, Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, and Avisail Garcia isn’t ideal. Of course, the same was even more true of a Cardinals lineup filled with good right-handed bats and Zito shut them down.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.