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Dodgers enter '18 with sky-high expectations

Kershaw set for franchise-best 8th Opening Day start
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- In some ways, the Dodgers will open the 2018 season with a very similar club to the one that fell only one win shy of a World Series title last year. Then again, with Matt Kemp in left field and without Justin Turner at third base, there already are some surprises.

Mainstay Clayton Kershaw will make his franchise-record eighth Opening Day start against the Giants at Dodger Stadium at 4:08 p.m. PT on Thursday. It could be his last Opening Day start as a Dodger because he can opt out of his contract after this season.

LOS ANGELES -- In some ways, the Dodgers will open the 2018 season with a very similar club to the one that fell only one win shy of a World Series title last year. Then again, with Matt Kemp in left field and without Justin Turner at third base, there already are some surprises.

Mainstay Clayton Kershaw will make his franchise-record eighth Opening Day start against the Giants at Dodger Stadium at 4:08 p.m. PT on Thursday. It could be his last Opening Day start as a Dodger because he can opt out of his contract after this season.

That brings an extra level of urgency for the Dodgers to end their 30-year title drought. The lineup is loaded, the starting rotation is experienced and the bullpen is built around the Big Man, Kenley Jansen.

Projected Opening Day lineup
1. Chris Taylor, CF
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Yasiel Puig, RF
4. Cody Bellinger, 1B
5. Matt Kemp, LF
6. Yasmani Grandal, C
7. Logan Forsythe, 3B 
8. Enrique Hernandez, 2B 
9. Clayton Kershaw, P

Key roles 
• Taylor, who opened 2017 in the Minor Leagues but had a breakout season after his recall, is locked in at leadoff and in center field because of his athleticism, speed and power.

Video: LAD@COL: Taylor plates two with a double in the 3rd

• Jansen is a two-time All-Star and two-time Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award winner.

• With Turner on the disabled list because of a fractured wrist and Forsythe moved to third base, Chase Utley and Hernandez will share second base. Kemp will get the bulk of playing time in left field, with Joc Pederson filling in.

Injury updates
• Turner's broken wrist, suffered in the last week of camp on a hit-by-pitch, is expected to keep him out anywhere from one to two months.

• The club has not offered a recovery timetable on reliever Tom Koehler, who sprained a right anterior shoulder capsule.

Julio Urias has had no setbacks after left shoulder surgery and could pitch by midseason.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers