Julio Urías was named the Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Day starter for the 2023 season, marking a career first for the former top prospect. He’ll be opposed by Zac Gallen in the matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Clayton Kershaw is expected to start the third game of the season on April 1.
Urías was penciled in for the first game of the season on Friday, when MLB permitted all clubs to unveil their starters. The joint announcements was part of the league’s “Opening Day Pick ’Em” marketing campaign.
When recently who the club intended to start in the first game of the season, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts would only commit to it being a left-hander.
However, Urías getting the nod began to become apparent based on scheduling, and even more so when Roberts revealed Kershaw’s final start of Spring Training is coming Sunday in the first game of the exhibition Freeway Series.
Urías has ascended into an ace for the Dodgers pitching staff over the past two seasons. He was MLB’s only 20-game winner in 2021 and he followed that up with another stellar performance that earned him a third-place finish in 2022 National League Cy Young Award voting.
The Opening Day accolade is the latest highlight for the 26-year-old who recently had the opportunity to star for his native Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. Urías started Team Mexico’s first game of pool play and raved about the overall experience of pitching in the WBC.
Urías is due to become a free agent after the 2023 season.
Clayton Kershaw: Julio Urías deserves Opening Day start
Prior to the official announcement of Urías being the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter, Kershaw spoke highly of his teammate receiving the honor.
Kershaw expressed the same sentiment when Walker Buehler carried the torch in the 2022 season opener.
Kershaw Opening Day history
Kershaw’s nine career starts on Opening Day are a Dodgers franchise record. It previously was shared by Don Drysdale and Don Sutton, who both made seven Opening Day starts for the Dodgers.
This marks the second two-year stretch in which the future Hall of Famer did not start a season opener.
Kershaw was scheduled to be on the mound for the first game in 2019, but that instead was made by Hyun-Jin Ryu due to Kershaw going on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation.
In 2020, Dustin May started on Opening Day because back stiffness forced Kershaw to the IL. Buehler was chosen as the outright Dodgers Opening Day starter in 2022, just like Urías for the 2023 season.
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