Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and catchers reported to Camelback Ranch on Tuesday for the start of Spring Training.
While position players aren’t set to report to camp until Sunday, Feb. 18, a handful has already checked in. The list extends to the reigning National League Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, Matt Kemp and Justin Turner, among others.
Though Cactus League play isn’t set to begin for two weeks, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has already named Clayton Kershaw as the club’s 2018 Opening Day starting pitcher, barring any unforeseeable injuries, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
#Dodgers Dave Roberts “The cat’s out of the bag” — Clayton Kershaw being targeted for Opening Day start. Again.
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) February 13, 2018
Vicente Padilla remains the last pitcher other than Kershaw to start for the Dodgers on Opening Day (2010). For Kershaw, the outing will mark his eighth consecutive start on Opening Day — a new Dodgers record.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner is 5-0 with a 0.99 ERA in seven career starts on Opening Day. His win total is tied with Don Drysdale for most in franchise history, and Kershaw’s ERA on Opening Day is the second-lowest mark in MLB history among pitchers who have started at least five season openers (Rick Mahler, 0.92 ERA).
Furthermore, the Dodgers are a perfect 7-0 on Opening Day when Kershaw takes the mound. He’ll look to extend that streak to eight when the club hosts the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, March 29.
Kershaw will have a lot to prove in 2018, as he has missed time each of the last two seasons due to back injuries. Kershaw can opt out of his contract and become a free agent at the end of 2018 if he chooses, so he will look to have a healthy Cy Young-caliber season to prove to the Dodgers and potentially other teams that he is still the best starting pitcher in baseball.