Opening Night lineups: Dodgers vs. Padres

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Here are the starting lineups for MLB’s “Opening Night” game Sunday between the Dodgers and Padres at San Diego’s Petco Park. First pitch is scheduled for just after 8:05 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Los Angeles Dodgers

LF Carl Crawford
RF Yasiel Puig
SS Hanley Ramirez
1B Adrian Gonzalez
CF Andre Ethier
3B Juan Uribe
C A.J. Ellis
2B Dee Gordon
SP Hyun-Jin Ryu

San Diego Padres

SS Everth Cabrera
RF Chris Denorfia
3B Chase Headley
2B Jedd Gyorko
1B Yonder Alonso
LF Tommy Medica
CF Will Venable
C Rene Rivera
SP Andrew Cashner

Dee Gordon batted leadoff during his one start at the Sydney Cricket Ground but will hit eighth in the Dodgers’ U.S. opener with Carl Crawford returning from paternity leave. The Dodgers were hoping to start Clayton Kershaw in this one, but he landed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a back injury.

Tommy Medica played exclusively at first base in his 19-game cup of coffee with the Padres last September, but he looked comfortable enough in the outfield during spring training and batted .333/.389/.561 in 27 Cactus League games. Chase Headley played in only six spring games but his strained calf has improved.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.