Even before the Los Angeles Dodgers announced Julio Urías as their Opening Day starter, all indications pointed to him taking the mound in the first game of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks rather than Clayton Kershaw.
MLB delayed the Dodgers and all teams from making their announcements until last week, but manager Dave Roberts had already indicated it would be a left-hander.
With Kershaw being scheduled to start the Freeway Series opener against Los Angeles Angels, it left him lined up to pitch again until at least the second game of the regular season.
Kershaw has started on Opening Day in nine of the past 12 seasons, but Urías has emerged as the ace of the staff. Prior to the Dodgers’ official announcement, Kershaw said he was happy for Urías to start Opening Day, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I’m excited for Julio to get to do it. I think he’ll be great,” Kershaw said Tuesday, acknowledging the obvious before realizing the Opening Day assignment is presumed but not official. “I’m assuming Julio is gonna get to do it. I mean, he deserves it. I’m happy for Julio. It’s a special thing to get to do. I think it should be whoever pitched the best the year before, and he did that. So he deserves it.”
Last year, the honor went to Walker Buehler, but he is currently recovering from his second Tommy John Surgery and will miss most, if not all, of the 2023 season. Kershaw’s last Opening Day start came in the 2021, but the prior two seasons it was Dustin May and Hyun-Jin Ryu who made the starts.
Urías recently returned to Dodgers camp after helping Team Mexico advance to the semifinals of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Last season, Urías finished with a 2.16 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 166 strikeouts over 31 starts.
Kershaw made two trips to the injured list, but still enjoyed an elite season that saw him post a 2.28 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with 137 strikeouts over 22 starts.
Julio Urías appreciative of Opening Day start
Upon being named the Opening Day starter, Urías expressed his gratitude for being trusted with the honor.
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