The Los Angeles Dodgers have reported to Camelback Ranch for Spring Training, beginning the journey that they hope will end up back in the World Series for the third straight year.
The front office did not make many moves in the offseason, but one of the biggest was inking long-time ace Clayton Kershaw to a three-year contract extension.
Kershaw had the ability to opt out of the final two years of his previous contract and test free agency for the first time in his career, but instead, the two sides were able to just add a year to the existing deal.
With Kershaw back in the mix, the expectation was that he would be the team’s Opening Day starter for a franchise-record ninth consecutive time. Vicente Padilla was the last pitcher other than Kershaw to start for the Dodgers on Opening Day, doing so in 2009.
Manager Dave Roberts confirmed Kershaw’s streak will be extended in 2019, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Dave Roberts named Clayton Kershaw the Opening Day starter — a club record 9th straight time.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 19, 2019
The Dodgers won each of Kershaw’s first seven Opening Day starts and he went 5-0 with a 0.99 ERA in that span. That streak was broken in 2018 when they lost to the San Francisco Giants, 1-0, dropping Kershaw to 5-1. He still had a solid outing that day, allowing one run in six innings while striking out seven.
Los Angeles will host the Arizona Diamondbacks on Opening Day this year on Thursday, March 28 at 1:10 p.m. PT. The matchup will likely pit Kershaw against his former teammate in Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke.
Kershaw is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, so he will be looking to bounce back in 2019. He went 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA, 3.19 FIP and 1.04 WHIP while striking out 155 and walking 29 in 161.1 innings.