Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times talked to owner Magic Johnson about his expectations for the Dodgers this season:
We want to go to the World Series. If we don’t accomplish that, yes, it is not a good season for us. Guys should be saying that. As the ownership group, that is what we are saying.
That makes sense in that the Dodgers have added a ton of star players and now boast the largest payroll in baseball history, but as the playoffs constantly prove being the best team–or at least having the best record–doesn’t always mean winning the World Series. It’s much different than the NBA that way.
And if they don’t win the World Series, what happens to manager Don Mattingly when his contract expires after the season?
Don has been in this game. He understands how these things work. He knows, if he does his job, he will get rewarded. Look, everybody likes Don a lot. Nobody wants to put Don in a situation where he is going to be the fall guy. We’re not that type of guys. What we’re trying to do is give Don all the resources necessary to be a winner, be effective and be a champion.
If it’s truly “World Series or bust” for the Dodgers this season Mattingly ought to be very nervous.
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.