03/30 Padres Preview: Game 1 vs. Dodgers

USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, Andrew Cashner was starting the season in the bullpen after injuring himself in a freak hunting accident. Today, he is the starting pitcher for our season opener.

Cashner is coming off a fantastic 2013 campaign that, despite having to start with some time in a relief role and being put on an innings limit, saw him become one of, if not the most exciting player on our team. In 2013 we saw him hit his first major league home run and face the minimum 27 batters in a one-hit complete game shutout. We saw him help lead the Padres in their second-half push with a 2.14 ERA over his final 11 starts. All of those things and more made him the unanimous choice for the BBWAA's Clyde McCullough Pitcher of the Year Award, which is an ACTUAL REAL AWARD unlike the 2011 SB Nation Cy Young Award.

Combine all of that with Cashner's strong Spring (minus one sketchy start) and you have the obvious choice for the 2014 Opening Night starter. Tonight he will take the mound to open up the 2014 season against a team he pitched very well against last year. Cashner made three relief appearances and three starts against L.A. in 2013, allowing only five runs (four earned) through 26 2/3 innings. He went 1-0 and the Padres lost all three of those starts, but by scores of just 1-0, 2-1, and 3-1.

As for the rest of the lineup today, you'll see some obvious names and some more surprising ones. Everth Cabrera, Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Jedd Gyorko, and Yonder Alonso make up the top five batters in the lineup. Then Tommy Medica will bat in the 6th spot and patrol left field. America's Finest City's Sweetheart, Will Venable, will hit 7th in his first attempt at the cycle this season. And finally, Rene Rivera will be Cashner's battery mate behind the plate.

Going opposite Cashner and our Padres will be Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is taking the place of Clayton Kershaw as the Dodgers' Opening Day starter. Kershaw is hitting the disabled list for the first time in his career due to a swollen back  muscle. The Dodgers are already two games into their season, having played a series against the Diamondbacks last week in Sydney, Australia. The Dodgers swept the series and the lefty Ryu pitched the second game. He threw five scoreless innings of two-hit ball to get the win, striking out five Arizona batters along the way. Ryu pitched only one game against San Diego last season, giving up one run on eight hits and a walk while collecting six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

First pitch is set for 5:05pm and you can catch the Nationally-televised broadcast on ESPN or tune into the radio broadcast on The Mighty 1090.

HAPPY OPENING DAY, GASLAMP BALLERS!!

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