The Dodgers made it official on Monday, tabbing Clayton Kershaw to start on opening day for a franchise record-extending ninth time. The Dodgers open the regular season on Thursday, March 26 against the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
Dave Roberts told reporters on Monday:
Dave Roberts announced that Clayton Kershaw will start opening day.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) March 9, 2020
The rest of the rotation, in order: Walker Buehler, David Price, Julio Urías, and Alex Wood.
#Dodgers Kershaw said it was 3-way discussion with Buehler, Roberts: "We kind of all got together and I said I don't want a charity Opening Day. If you want me to do it, great. But if you want Walker to do it, great too. Walker was great about it. I'm thankful that I get to do it— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) March 9, 2020
Kershaw’s streak of eight consecutive opening day starts was broken last year when he opened the season on the injured list with left shoulder inflammation. This year, Kershaw is fully healthy and hasn’t allowed a run in his two Cactus League starts, with eight strikeouts and two walks in 4⅔ innings.
Part of his offseason included a trip to Driveline in Washington state to fine tune some things.
Most opening day starts by LHP
|Steve Carlton||14||3-9, 4.30|
|Randy Johnson||14||7-2, 2.49|
|CC Sabathia||11||1-3, 6.12|
|Warren Spahn||10||4-4, 3.10|
|Mark Buehrle||9||4-1, 3.68|
|Clayton Kershaw||9*||5-1, 1.05|
“Having a full, healthy offseason to focus on just getting better with all that encompasses and not really worried about health, you have time to make gains,” Kershaw told reporters in February. “Overall, my body’s in a great spot. Legs, arm, everything.”
Nine opening day starts is a total exceeded by only 18 pitchers dating back to 1904 (the earliest year tracked by Baseball Reference). The only active pitchers with more opening day starts than Kershaw are Justin Verlander (11, through 2019, and currently shut down with a lat strain that pretty much takes a 12th opening day start off the table, this year anyway) and Felix Hernandez (11).
Kershaw on March 26 will tie with Mark Buehrle for fifth-most opening day starts by a left-hander in that time.
Kershaw has been nearly unhittable in his opening day starts, going 5-1 with a 1.05 ERA. Four of his eight starts have been scoreless, with seven total runs allowed, and in total he has 59 opening day strikeouts against only eight walks in 51⅔ innings.
His 59 strikeouts are tied with Nolan Ryan (9 starts) for the most on opening day in the last 116 years. Kershaw is tied for 13th in opening day wins, with Walter Johnson holding the record at nine victories.
Kershaw in his career against the Giants is 23-12 with a 1.74 ERA in 49 games (47 starts), with 350 strikeouts and 52 walks in 342⅓ innings. At home against the Giants he’s 10-7 with a 2.09 ERA in 24 starts.