Los Angeles Dodgers ace and reigning National League MVP Clayton Kershaw will be in a familiar setting Monday afternoon as he takes the mound for his fifth consecutive Opening-Day start.
Already 3-0 with 26 strikeouts and just one run allowed in his previous starts on the first day of a new season, Kershaw is looking to remain perfect on Opening Day against the San Diego Padres, a team he was 3-0 against with a 1.08 ERA last season.
Kershaw’s fifth Opening-Day start is second-most in franchise history — behind Don Sutton’s seven — and it’s an accomplishment that isn’t lost on him, as he explained to SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo:
It’s a huge honor. It is just one game of the regular season, but at the same time it’s a different feel. You go to Opening Day and just the feel, it’s baseball season again. The people who have done it in the past, the Dodgers especially, to be associated with them, it’s definitely a cool thing.”
When asked if Opening Day is still special considering the number of starts under his belt, Kershaw said it is, though admitted nerves will prevent him from immediately appreciating it:
Opening day is fun, no matter what. I’ll be too amped up and nervous to think about it at the time.”
Despite the great levels of success Kershaw reached last season, he faces a monumental challenge in 2015 as he’s not only expected to meet or exceed the standards he’s set, but also to solve his postseason troubles.
While it’s something Kershaw has given thought to, he’s also acknowledged October perception can’t be fixed or improved in April. Kershaw’s first regular-season challenge comes in the form of the new-look San Diego Padres and Matt Kemp, who said he’s looking forward to facing his former teammate.
Dodgers Spring Training: Clayton Kershaw