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With camp done, Roberts names LA's rotation

@kengurnick
July 22, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- After his Dodgers outslugged the Angels Tuesday night, 6-4, in the exhibition finale of Summer Camp, manager Dave Roberts announced the order of his starting rotation to begin the season.

LOS ANGELES -- After his Dodgers outslugged the Angels Tuesday night, 6-4, in the exhibition finale of Summer Camp, manager Dave Roberts announced the order of his starting rotation to begin the season.

Box score

Clayton Kershaw opens the season on Thursday night against the Giants, and he will be followed by Ross Stripling on Friday night, Alex Wood on Saturday and Julio Urías on Sunday night. Monday is a day off, then the Dodgers travel to Houston, where Walker Buehler will debut on Tuesday night. Kershaw will follow on Wednesday against the team that beat the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, but also was found guilty of sign stealing that year.

Starting pitching might be the biggest question mark for the heavily favored Dodgers. Stripling moves from the bullpen to replace David Price, who elected not to play this season. Wood won one game last year while battling back problems. Urías has yet to fulfill his potential and Buehler is behind schedule while insisting he’s healthy.

There are no such issues with the lineup, as it demonstrated while sweeping the three exhibition games to conclude Summer Camp. There are eight former All-Stars in the regular lineup, two of them former MVPs. But opposing pitchers get no breather at the bottom of the order, especially with the universal designated hitter.

On Tuesday night, No. 6 hitter Chris Taylor slugged a three-run homer for the second consecutive game.

“He’s just synced up,” said Roberts. “He’s seeing the baseball well. Mechanically, he’s in a good place. C.T. worked really hard, like many of our guys, during the quarantine. Really dialed his swing in and he hasn’t missed a beat. Chris is a guy I trust anywhere on the diamond. Right-handers, left-handers. He’s going to impact us like he always has.”

No. 8 hitter Enrique Hernández doubled in two runs. Zach McKinstry, a 33rd-round Draft pick in 2016 who can play all over the diamond, also homered. On Monday night, the Dodgers got eight RBIs from the sixth hitter on down.

McKinstry did not homer in 118 games at Central Michigan. In his first three Dodgers Minor League seasons, he hit 11. But splitting last year between Double-A and Triple-A, he powered 19 and now is on the bubble to make the Opening Day roster.

“I’ve gone from a slap hitter in college to now able to drive the ball to the center of the field,” said McKinstry, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Dodgers' No. 20 prospect. “My swing has come a long way. When I get good counts, I try to do damage to the baseball.”

Offense from super-utilitymen Taylor and Hernández made it easy for management to option rookie Gavin Lux to the alternate training facility. Lux arrived late and has looked lost, never more so than when he froze and took a called third strike right down the middle on Tuesday night.

The Dodgers will hold a voluntary workout on Wednesday, but if all goes well, will meet up with the Giants healthy and firing on all cylinders.

“You don’t have to look too far back to think that this day was ever going to happen,” said Roberts. “We got through this. Our guys are feeling good and healthy and we’ve got Opening Day to look forward to. These guys have worked really hard to prepare and I know they’re really excited.”

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.