One storyline I'm very interested in following closely this season is the development and performance of rookie outfielder Jabari Blash. The tall slugger made his major league debut on Opening Day and drew a walk in his sole plate appearance. He was called on to pinch-hit again in the Padres' second game and grounded out to third base, giving him a batting average of zeros and dropping his OBP to a Bondsian .500. Tonight marks another first for him, as he'll make his first big league start, in left field.
Blash and his teammates will be taking on Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, who is making his major league debut after eight stellar seasons starting for the Hiroshima Carp of the Japan Central League. Like Blash, Maeda is right-handed, but Blash does not have a history of extreme platoon splits, and in fact has improved against righties each season in the minors (while still of course performing better versus lefties). In his breakout season split between AA and AAA last year, Blash hit .265/ .363/ .549 with 23 of his 32 homers in 372 plate appearances against right-handers, and .292/ .394/ .674 in 104 trips to the plate against lefties.