Biggest Things to Look Forward to for Dodgers-Padres Opening Series

San Diego Padres Pitcher Yu Darvish. Photo courtesy of Ryan Casey Aguinaldo at Wikimedia Commons.

Baseball is so back. Fresh off of an eventful offseason (especially for the Dodgers), the regular season starts in Seoul between the Southern California rivals Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. There’s a lot to be excited about for both teams, but here are the things I’m most excited to see for this series in particular:

Shohei Ohtani

Much (and by much, I mean about 90%) of the offseason buzz was around the 10-year, $700 million monster deal two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ohtani is undoubtedly the face of baseball right now and is one of the biggest names in all of sports. 

Though he won’t be pitching this season due to surgery on his throwing elbow, his debut in Dodger blue will certainly be one of the main focuses of this series. If Spring Training is a sign of what’s to come in his Dodger tenure, LA fans should be excited; he posted a .471/.571/1.000 slash line to go along with two homers and nine RBIs in 22 at-bats. 

The return of Padres’ Joe Musgrove

Joe Musgrove will be starting Game 2 of the Seoul series against the Dodgers, his first start since July 28, 2023, against the Texas Rangers. Musgrove is arguably the ace of the Padres’ staff but suffered a shoulder injury last year that sidelined him for the last two months of the season. He was playing his best ball at the time of the injury, too, as he posted a 1.84 ERA in his last 12 starts of the 2023 campaign. Musgrove looks to return to form after a tough Spring Training. 

Two-headed monster of Tyler Glasnow, Yoshinobu Yamamoto

After the disappointing end of the 2023 season, it was apparent that the Dodgers needed some starting pitching, especially with the Julio Urias situation, Clayton Kershaw’s shoulder surgery and Walker Buehler not being ready for the start of the season. It’s safe to say that they addressed that need by acquiring 6-foot-8 flamethrower Tyler Glasnow and Japanese phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto. 

Glasnow has some of the best stuff in the game; it’s just about staying healthy. Yamamoto is a three-time winner of the Eiji Sawamura Award, the Japanese version of the Cy Young Award. He also has wicked stuff but scuffled at times in Spring Training; however, it was also his first look at Major League hitting. 

The new-look Padres infield

The Padres announced during Spring Training that Ha-Seong Kim would be the starting shortstop for the 2024 season, just a year after the Padres signed star shortstop Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year deal worth $280 million. Moving Kim to shortstop is the right move for the team, though. 

Kim produced an OAA (outs above average) of nine last season, putting him in the 96th percentile in MLB. Bogaerts, on the other hand, had an OAA of three, which is the second-highest of his career. Throughout his career, he’s posted an OAA of -32. Kim provides better range and more reliable defense from the shortstop position. Kim and Bogaerts should be one of the best middle infielder duos in the league. 

But I’m just happy to have baseball back in our lives again. It has felt like a long offseason, and I can’t wait to relax and watch the best sport in the world. The games may be at 3:05 a.m. PT, but you can bet I’ll be recording the games and watching as much of them as I can. These two teams are both looking to make postseason runs; hopefully, the series brings out the best of both teams.