For a franchise-record eight consecutive years, Clayton Kershaw has gotten the start for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Opening Day.
At the beginning of Spring Training this year, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts named Kershaw his Opening Day starter once again in 2019, although a lot has changed since then.
Kershaw has been dealing with shoulder discomfort that forced him to stay off a mound for the last few weeks. He was finally able to throw a bullpen session Monday, his first since Feb. 20, hurling 20 fastballs at around 80 percent.
If Kershaw continues to progress and doesn’t have any setbacks, Roberts still has not ruled out him making a ninth straight start on Opening Day. But with March 28 less than three weeks away, time is running out to get him built up enough to be able to pitch in a Major League game.
When asked how he feels about his streak potentially coming to an end, Kershaw had mixed emotions, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“Yes and no, I guess,” he said. “Yes because I’ve got a little streak going, just the history behind it is pretty cool. But no in the fact that it’s not worth – it’s one game. You have to kind of weigh that back and forth. So – yes and no.”
It is good to see that Kershaw is not rushing himself back just so he can be ready for that start, keeping in mind the bigger picture that is a 162-game season plus another potential postseason run.
Kershaw is scheduled to throw another bullpen in the coming days, but he is still likely a week or two away from getting into a Spring Training game.
If he is forced to miss Opening Day, then Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu have both looked great so far this spring and would be the primary candidates to start in Kershaw’s place.