Twenty nine days stand between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Opening Day. “Opening Day Starter” has long been one of the most hallowed titles any pitcher can earn. The baseball equivalent of the last starter to be summoned off the bench and onto the hardwood as the crowd goes wild.
Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts has yet to name that starter, but has admitted it’s one of two guys.
Do we have an opening day starter yet… um, yeah, we do… I’m not ready to share it though. It’s one of two guys, how about that?
Walker Buehler might be the better pitcher statistically in 2020, but the emblematic Clayton Kershaw should absolutely be “the guy” to start the season versus the San Francisco Giants.
The 25-year-old Buehler has plenty of late March starts in store for the coming years. Kershaw may not.
Kershaw’s twelfth season ended before it even began with a shoulder injury that kept him out of the rotation until mid-April. With his fastball velocity slipping, he had to reinvent himself. He finished 2019 with 28 starts, his highest total since 2015, and was seventh in league ERA (3.03). Safe to say he adapted.
Kershaw has endured injuries and playoff failures with the Dodgers. No disrespect to Aroldis Chapman or Mike Bolsinger, but Kershaw is the biggest victim of the cheating Houston Astros.
Here’s that Verducci clip, on the 2017 WS sham:
“Kershaw threw 51 sliders and curveballs that day, and got *zero* swings and misses.” pic.twitter.com/wkjn3ivjA7
— 2020 Astros Shame Tour (@AsteriskTour) February 25, 2020
If that fateful night at Joe Buck’s Crawford Boxes had gone differently, who knows where Kershaw’s confidence would have been in 2018 against the Red Sox.
After all he has been through with this organization, he has earned the right to start Opening Day 2020. It’s a nod of confidence. A sign of respect. Loyal support for a man whose legacy is forever altered by the biggest scandal since the Black Sox. Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t about pity. He can still pitch at a high level worthy of commendation.
To hell with the Astros and Alex Cora, Kershaw deserves at least one more coronation before Buehler takes the throne.