The Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation is as deep and as talented as it has ever been, but Clayton Kershaw remains perched atop it.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced Sunday that Kershaw will once again start on Opening Day, marking the 11th time he has been bestowed the honor. Kershaw has been named the Opening Day starter every year since 2011 but has ultimately been replaced each of the previous two years due to injury.
Last summer, to begin the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, Kershaw was scratched because of back stiffness four hours before the first pitch. He debuted 10 days later and put together another impressive stat line, posting a 2.16 ERA with 62 strikeouts and eight walks in 58 1/3 regular-season innings while pitching with a fastball velocity that returned to the 92-mph range. Kershaw followed with a 2.93 ERA in five starts the ensuing postseason, helping the Dodgers capture their long-elusive World Series championship.
Since then the Dodgers added Trevor Bauer, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. They also employ another Cy Young Award winner in David Price, who’s back with the team after opting out of the 2020 season. And they possess a potential Cy Young Award winner in Walker Buehler, who has established himself among the sport’s greatest pitchers. But Kershaw, who will turn 33 on Friday and will soon begin the final year of his contract, still sets the tone for their rotation.
“There’s really no wrong decision,” Roberts said. “I just feel that he’s earned it, he’s the right guy for the spot for 2021 — for every reason I just think it makes the most sense.”