The Los Angeles Dodgers are closing in on the start of Cactus League play, with their opener scheduled for March 3 against Camelback Ranch co-tenant Chicago White Sox. In preparation for spring games, pitchers began throwing live batting in recent days.
Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood threw their first live BP sessions of the spring on Friday, with Luis Avilan, Joe Blanton, Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw among the group of pitchers who faced batters on Saturday.
Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, Brett Anderson and Alex Wood are slated to follow, lending an early glimpse into how the Dodgers will align their starting rotation.
“I think that we have a very good idea of where we’re going to go and how it’s going to shake out.,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said recently when discussing the rotation.
“But, competition is always a good thing and with six weeks there is a lot of things that can kind of happen. But we have an idea of where we want to go, for sure.” At the time, Roberts also stopped short of naming Kershaw the club’s Opening Day starter.
However, that changed Sunday as Roberts announced Kershaw will start the Cactus League opener and take the hill on Opening Day against the San Diego Padres, per Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
Mgr Dave Roberts said Clayton Kershaw will start #Dodgers Cactus League lidlifter on Thursday — and Opening Day April 4 in SD
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) February 28, 2016
Kershaw has started the past five season openers and Los Angeles is 5-0 in those games. The only Dodgers pitcher with a longer streak of Opening Day starts is Don Sutton, who holds the record with seven straight from 1972-78.
Kershaw’s string of six starts to begin a season will move him into second place among active starting pitchers. Seattle Mariners righty Felix Hernandez leads the Majors with seven consecutive Opening Day starts.
The left-handed ace wasn’t credited with a win and didn’t suffer a loss in three starts against San Diego last season. He had a 2.20 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in the three outings, including 27 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched.
Kershaw made one start at Petco Park in 2015, allowing one run and collecting 11 strikeouts over 6.2 innings. Overall, Kershaw is 12-6 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 27 career starts against San Diego, including a 4-2 record, 2.13 ERA and 0.99 WHIP over 10 starts at Petco Park.
The Padres previously announced Tyson Ross is taking the hill on April 4 at Petco Park in what will be the first Opening Day start of his career.
In the two outings against the Dodgers last season, the 28 year old allowed a combined 11 hits, three earned runs, walked five and had seven strikeouts in 12 innings pitched. For his career, Ross is 0-6 with a 2.67 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 10 games (eight starts) against the Dodgers.
Clayton Kershaw Opening Day starts
|Season||Opponent||Result||Innings Pitched||Hits||Earned Runs||Strikeouts|
|2012||@ Padres||No Decision||3.0||2||0||3|
|2014||vs. Diamondbacks (Australia)||Win||6.2||5||1||7|
|2015||vs. Padres||No Decision||6.0||6||3||9|