D-backs-Dodgers Opening Day starting pitchers: Gallen vs. Urías

March 24th, 2023

The Dodgers have been the class of the National League West over the last decade, winning nine of the last 10 division titles. But with a different blend of veterans and young players, the Dodgers, at least on paper, appear to be a bit more vulnerable than they’ve been in previous seasons.

That could open the door for a team like the D-backs, who are led by a strong young core, to take another leap in its rebuild in 2023. Last season, the Dodgers dominated the season series, winning 14 of the 19 contests between the two teams.

Both teams will be tested right away in what could be one of the best pitching matchups of opening weekend.  and  both finished in the top five in NL Cy Young Award voting and will lead their respective teams in the season opener on March 30 at Dodger Stadium.

Previous Opening Day starts: None
2022 Season: 12-4 with a 2.54 ERA in 31 starts

While he’s been viewed as the ace of the D-backs' rotation for the last few seasons, this will be the first time that Gallen has gotten the Opening Day nod.

The 27-year-old earned this start on the basis of an outstanding 2022 season in which he led the NL in WHIP and opponents' batting average and compiled a 44 1/3 scoreless-innings streak, the longest in the Majors since 2015. It added up to a fifth-place finish in the league's Cy Young award voting to establish himself as the leader of Arizona’s rotation.

“He’s very meticulous and thorough in his work, and I think that's why he's a great pitcher,” catcher Carson Kelly said. “That's why he can go on a run of [44 1/3] innings in a row without giving up a run. You can see the attention to detail in between starts. He’ll say, ‘I'm going to work on this because we're facing this team, and this pitch is going to be very important for that.’ He does his homework and then puts in the work in the bullpen.”

Gallen was outstanding against the Dodgers in 2022, allowing just one run in 14 innings over two starts while striking out 18 and walking two.

Previous Opening Day starts: None
2022 Season: 17-7 with a 2.16 ERA in 31 starts

After nearly a decade of lofty expectations surrounding him, Urías put it all together in 2022 and became one of the best pitchers in the National League. Urías won the NL ERA title last season and finished third in Cy Young Award voting.

“I think he’s earned this opportunity,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s checked a lot of boxes [in his career], and this is one of the last for him and something that, from his teammates to all of us, we’re excited for him to have this opportunity.”

Likely first-ballot Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw was also in the mix to be the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter, but the organization ultimately gave the honor to Urías, who was the ace of the staff last season. Urías earned the recognition after compiling 37 wins over the last two seasons.

“He deserves it,” Kershaw said. “I’m happy for Julio. It’s a special thing to get to do. I think it should be whoever pitched the best the year before, and he did that. So he deserves it.”