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Opening Day 2015 Game Preview: 04/06 Padres @ Dodgers

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Day of the most anticipated Padres season in recent history (arguably ever) is finally upon us. And we've got a heck of a matchup to look forward to this morning.

The Friars open up the season on the road in Los Angeles to face the rival Dodgers. Last week the team officially announced James Shields as the Opening Day starter to face L.A.'s ace and 2011 SB Nation Cy Young Award Co-Winner Clayton Kershaw. This will be Shields' seventh career Opening Day start and it'll hold a special meaning for him, having grown up going to Dodger Stadium as a fan. The right-hander went 13-8 with a 3.21 ERA for the Royals last season and has been the definition of a workhorse in his last seven years in the majors, throwing more innings than any other pitcher in that span. He fully intends on continuing that trend in San Diego and pushing his fellow starters to follow his lead.

Shields was just one of several new acquisitions made by AJ Preller this past offseason, resulting in a completely overhauled roster and a highly-anticipated season brimming with possibility. Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp make up the brand new Padres outfield while Will Middlebrooks and Clint Barmes join the infield and Derek Norris works behind the plate.

One of the biggest stories specifically today, and this series, will be Kemp's return to Dodger stadium as a visitor. As Kemp faces his former team after spending all Winter and Spring winning the hearts of the Friar Faithful, it'll probably be an emotional few days for him. But he gave us a preview during Spring Training of what we can expect from him at the plate, and it has to make Padres fans confident, even with an opponent like Kershaw on the mound.

The reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner is a tough draw on Opening Day. Maybe the toughest in the league. He's coming off an insane 21-3 season in which he kept his ERA to just 1.77 and went 3-0 against San Diego. He's undefeated (3-0), having allowed only one earned run to cross the plate, through four previous Opening Day starts.

And while the Padres' team renovation may have "won" them the offseason, the Dodgers are sending out a pretty new-looking team themselves. Along with Kemp, they also parted ways with Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon, and Dan Haren while acquiring Yasmani Grandal, Jimmie Rollins, and Howie Kendrick to their roster. They're toting a $272 million team entering 2015, leading all of MLB in payroll.

It'll be the Dodgers' money competing against the Padres' ingenuity on display this afternoon at Chavez Ravine. Fox Sports San Diego, ESPN Deportes, and The Mighty 1090 will carry the live broadcasts for the season opener at 1:10 pm PT.

SB Nation is hosting a $6,000 one-day Fantasy Baseball league for MLB Opening Day on FanDuel. It's $5 to join and first place wins $1,000 and four tickets to a game. Enter now!