PHOENIX — Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made official what we’ve all come to expect on Saturday, naming Clayton Kershaw the club’s opening day starter for what would be a franchise-record-tying seventh time.
The plan is for Kershaw to take the ball on Monday, April 3 against the Padres at Dodger Stadium.
The seventh opening day start will tie Don Drysdale and Don Sutton for the most in Dodgers franchise history, and the seventh consecutive opening day start will match Sutton, who started the Dodgers’ first game every year from 1972-1978.
"Sutton and Drysdale? That's great," Roberts told reporters on Saturday. "I'm looking forward to having us all there in Los Angeles."
It is easy to take these sort of announcements for granted. After all, Kershaw is the Dodgers’ best pitcher and is widely considered the best pitcher in baseball, so of course he should start opening day. But baseball doesn’t always work out like that.
Sandy Koufax, the legendary Hall of Fame left-hander to whom Kershaw is often compared, only started once on opening day for the Dodgers, the same number as Vicente Padilla, whose 2010 opening day start was the last by a Dodgers pitcher before Kershaw’s current streak.
"Any time you get to do it is special," Kershaw said. "I'm thankful that I've gotten to do it for so long with the same team. Not a lot of people get to do that, so it's pretty cool."
Among active MLB pitchers, only Felix Hernandez of the Mariners has a longer streak of opening day starts than Kershaw. Hernandez has started the last eight opening days for Seattle.
Kershaw has allowed only four runs total in his six previous opening day starts. He is 4-0 with a 0.93 ERA in those starts, with 44 strikeouts and six walks in 38⅔ innings. That includes seven scoreless innings against the Padres in the Dodgers’ 15-0 season-opening victory in San Diego last season.