In news that should surprise nobody, the Dodgers tabbed Clayton Kershaw as their Opening Day starter.
It was really a formality at this point, but Dodger manager Dave Roberts announced that Clayton Kershaw would start the Cactus League opener on Thursday and start regular season game number one, April 4th in San Diego.
This will be Kershaw’s sixth consecutive opening day start. He’s been the only opening day starter the Dodgers have used since Vicente Padilla got the ball in Pittsburgh in 2010. The Dodgers have won each of the last five opening day contests by a combined score of 20-8.
Against the Padres on opening day last year, Kershaw was human, giving up three runs in six innings. Jimmy Rollins bailed him out with a three run home run in the eighth inning to untie the game and give the Dodgers their first of 92 wins.
Kershaw finished third in Cy Young voting last season. After a slow start, Kershaw turned it around and finished the season with a 2.13 ERA/1.99 FIP and 301 strikeouts, the first to reach the 300-K mark since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling both did so with the Diamondbacks in 2002. His last start in the 2015 regular season came against the Padres, and Kershaw struck out seven in three 2/3 innings to reach 301 on the season.
Reading too much into it, Kenta Maeda would be lined up to start the Dodgers’ home opener on April 12th if this is how the rotation shapes up. It makes sense, especially with new reports that Hyun-jin Ryu would likely not be ready for opening day. They’re taking a cautious approach with Ryu, and he said his goal was to be ready in May and start about 20 games this season. In past years, losing a starter early on would hurt, but it could help the Dodgers this year as they try to figure out what to do with Brett Anderson and Alex Wood. Ryu being sidelined buys them a bit of time before having to make a tough decision regarding one of their starters.
In other news, with Ian Desmond reportedly signing with the Rangers, the Dodgers draft picks next season would be locked in. Every free agent that received a qualifying offer has signed, so there’s no more movement in that regard (as long as Desmond’s signing get finalized). The Dodgers first round pick is now number 20 overall, they received the 32nd pick for losing Zack Greinke and the 36th pick for failing to sign 2015 draftee Kyle Funkhouser.
In other other news, Sandy Koufax has retired from his official role, but released a statement regarding his role with the Dodgers.