When the Los Angeles Dodgers’ schedule was released and a game was moved a day early to ESPN, the idea that reigning Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw would be able to start three different openers became possible.
The Dodgers open the season in Australia on March 22-23 and Kershaw would be the likely starter in the first game in Sydney. He would then be set to pitch the U.S. version of Opening Day against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park that was moved to Sunday, March 31 and it would also then allow him to start Opening Day at Dodger Stadium that following Friday against the San Francisco Giants.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, the narrative may not come to fruition:
Asked if he thought starting Kershaw three times in six games might be too much, Mattingly replied, I think it might be.
Put in those terms, starting three out of the first six games sounds ridiculous but Kershaw would have over a week between his first two starts and his normal five days’ rest for the third start. Mattingly is planning to take a more cautious approach when it comes to his highest-paid pitcher. This off-season, the 25-year-old Kershaw signed a seven-year, $215 million deal and it would be best to make sure that Kershaw lasts those seven seasons.
Mattingly gave his plan for his left-hander this season via Hernandez:
We’ve very mindful of Clayton and the number of innings he pitched last year, [and] the short winter, Mattingly said. We’re not going to be cautious and baby him, but we have to make sure we pay attention to how many innings this guy’s throwing. We know he’s a workhorse.
Kershaw threw a career-high 259 innings last season while the team went deeper into October than they normally have and began spring training a week earlier due to their trip to Australia. As the season goes on, the Dodgers may find themselves with a comfortable lead in the standings and will be able to give Kershaw a break or cut his innings to keep him fresh for another deep postseason run.
While seeing Kershaw open three different series would make for a great story, it seems as if the Dodgers and Mattingly would rather keep him fresh for the entire season and not have him go three-for-three in season opening starts.
ICYMI: Here’s our Dodgers Nation Week in Review Video