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Clayton Kershaw gets Dodgers’ Opening Day starter nod over Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer

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The Los Angeles Dodgers will send a familiar face to the mound on Thursday, April 1 when they begin their title defense on the road against the Colorado Rockies. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw will be making his 11th career Opening Day start, manager Dave Roberts announced on Sunday, according to ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez.

The Dodgers’ decision is notable for a few reasons. Foremost, Kershaw is entering the final year of his contract. The Dodgers would seem to be the favorites to retain his services come wintertime, but there are no guarantees in sport or love. To wit, Kershaw told Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times that he didn’t know if he would remain in L.A. beyond this season. There’s a chance, then, this is his final Opening Day with the Dodgers.

There’s also the matter of the arms Kershaw is getting the nod over. The Dodgers could have justifiably selected instead either Walker Buehler or free-agent signing Trevor Bauer, who won the National League Cy Young Award during the abbreviated 2020 season.  Instead, they chose to reward Kershaw. “There’s really no wrong decision,” Roberts said, per Gonzalez. “I just feel that he’s earned it, he’s the right guy for the spot for 2021 — for every reason I just think it makes the most sense.”

Kershaw is coming off a season that saw him post a 2.16 ERA (196 ERA+) and a 7.75 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 10 starts and 58 innings. During the postseason, he started five times and accumulated a 2.93 ERA and 32 more strikeouts than walks in 30 frames. 

The Dodgers will spend their first seven games on the road to open the year: four in Colorado and then three in Oakland against the Athletics. Los Angeles will then open the home portion of its schedule with a three-game set against the Washington Nationals. Either Buehler or Bauer should be in line to start that game.

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