With Opening Day just around the corner, it is still unclear who will be starting on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers when they host the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 28.
Clayton Kershaw was named the Opening Day starter early this spring, but he has since been dealing with a shoulder injury that has kept him off the mound for the last few weeks.
The obvious candidate to start in Kershaw’s place if he is not available for his franchise-record ninth consecutive Opening Day start would be Walker Buehler, although he also has not thrown in a Cactus League game to this point.
He is not dealing with an injury, but instead is just being slow-played after throwing a career-high in innings a year ago.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts provided positive updates on both Kershaw and Buehler on Sunday morning as they will both get on a mound this week and are expected to be ready for Opening Day, via Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
Dave Roberts said Clayton Kershaw will play catch today + throw a bullpen tomorrow. He hasn’t thrown off a mound in a couple weeks. Roberts said he expects Kershaw — and Walker Buehler — to be ready for start of the season. Buehler will throw another live BP Tuesday or Wednesday.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) March 10, 2019
Kershaw has been playing catch almost every day of late and all of the updates have been positive. Getting on the mound to throw a bullpen is a huge step in the right direction if Kershaw wants to be ready for Opening Day, or at least avoid a disabled list stint to begin the season.
Buehler threw live batting practice for the first time on Saturday afternoon. The next step for him after he does that again would be to get into an actual Cactus League game to begin ramping up for the season.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently revealed that Ross Stripling would be the first pitcher in line to join the starting rotation if Kershaw, Buehler or any other pitcher is not ready for the start of the season. Stripling would start in the bullpen if all of them are healthy and ready to go.