Clayton Kershaw has been the Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Day starter in nine of the past 12 seasons, but keeping that honor this year is not guaranteed due to Julio Urías emergence as an ace.
When asked at multiple points during Spring Training if the Dodgers had decided on who would take the ball in the season opener, manager Dave Roberts would only commit to it being a left-hander.
Roberts historically has been willing to name an Opening Day starter for the Dodgers much earlier than the current point in Spring Training, whether it was an obvious choice or up for debate.
His delay in doing so for the 2023 season is due to MLB instructing teams to not reveal their starters for the first game of the season until the announcements can be made in unison on Friday, according to Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
Major League Baseball has instructed teams this spring not to announce their Opening Day starter before Friday so that an “Opening Day Pick ’Em” promotion can be unveiled with all 15 pitching matchups.
Kershaw’s nine starts on Opening Day are a Dodgers franchise record. It previously was shared by Don Drysdale and Don Sutton, who made seven Opening Day starts for the Dodgers.
Kershaw could have made more as he was scheduled to be on the mound for the first game in 2019, but that was made by Hyun-Jin Ryu instead 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. Walker Buehler was chosen as the outright Dodgers Opening Day starter in 2022.
Although that decision signaled a changing of the guard within the organization, Kershaw was nothing but supportive of Buehler receiving the honor for the first time in his career. Buehler pitched five innings against the Colorado Rockies to begin 2022, allowing two runs on four hits and receiving the win.
Who is 2023 Dodgers Opening Day starter?
The Dodgers are deciding between Kershaw and Urías as their starter for Opening Day of the 2023 season. Although an official announcement won’t come until Friday, all signs point to Urías getting to carry the torch.
Urías is returning from the World Baseball Classic to start for the Dodgers on Friday, which puts him on an extra day of rest for Opening Day. Meanwhile, Kershaw next is due to pitch Sunday in the opener of the exhibition Freeway Series.
That leaves Kershaw on track to start the second game of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 31.
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