Cardinals at Dodgers series preview: Everything you need to know for Opening Day

The St. Louis Cardinals face a tough opponent in Shohei Ohtani's Los Angeles Dodgers to open the 2024 season. Here's what to expect.

2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Gene Wang/GettyImages
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James Paxton, the Dodgers' fifth starter, and only left-hander in their Opening Day rotation won't be making an appearance, so we'll only have to worry about one projected lineup for St. Louis. Here it is:

Cardinals projected lineup (v. RHP)

  1. Brendan Donovan (LF)
  2. Paul Goldschmidt (1B)
  3. Nolan Gorman (2B)
  4. Nolan Arenado (3B)
  5. Willson Contreras (C)
  6. Alec Burleson (DH)
  7. Jordan Walker (RF)
  8. Masyn Winn (SS)
  9. Victor Scott II (CF)

A few important names are missing from the Cardinals' lineup, such as Lars Nootbaar and Tommy Edman, who would significantly bolster the offensive firepower of this team, but overall, there are not many holes. 1 through 5 are all established and solid Major League hitters. Goldschmidt, Gorman, and Arenado, especially, all have 30+ home run potential. Willson Contreras is one of the best offensive catchers in all of baseball, and the bottom of the lineup in Burleson, Walker, Winn, and Scott all are young with major offensive upside.

Walker and Burleson will look to take significant steps forward in their sophomore seasons, and Masyn Winn will look to truly show his offensive potential for the first time. Victor Scott's callup was due to Dylan Carlson's untimely injury, but his productive Spring and electric tools will also tremendously help the team.

All of this is great, and the Cardinals should have a top lineup in the NL, but the Dodger lineup is one of the few that is better.

Dodgers projected lineup

  1. Mookie Betts (SS)
  2. Shohei Ohtani (DH)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B)
  4. Will Smith (C)
  5. Max Muncy (3B)
  6. Teoscar Hernandez (LF)
  7. James Outman (CF)
  8. Jason Heyward v. R/Chris Taylor v. L (RF)
  9. Gavin Lux (2B)

This lineup is going to be a problem for the middling Cardinals' starters in the opening series. The big three of Betts, Ohtani, and Freeman already wreaked havoc against Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove in Seoul, and the rest of the lineup doesn't get much easier. If Willson Contreras is one of the top offensive catchers in baseball, Will Smith might be the best. If the Cardinals' 2-4 hitters have 30 homer potential, the Dodgers' 1-6 has 30 homer potential. This lineup is terrifying.

At the end of this breakdown, we've concluded that the Dodgers are favored in every facet. But, sometimes, baseball happens. We still need to play the games, and the Cardinals could quickly come out on top. The Dodgers are scary. Like Shohei Ohtani, their pitching and hitting are among baseball's best. But as we've seen in the Postseason, it can often fall apart, and LA has fallen short of the grand prize more than anyone in baseball.

Maybe the Cardinals' pitching folds completely and drops all four games, or maybe the Dodgers crumble under the weight of expectations and allegations of illegal gambling. It all remains to be seen, and I can't wait to get started.