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Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, not Trevor Bauer, named Opening Day Starter

Dodgers opening day starter Trevor Bauer Clayton Kershaw

Whether Trevor Bauer is reading the lineup card with one eye or two, the Dodgers’ high-priced free-agent addition should see the same thing: Clayton Kershaw, not Bauer, will be the team’s Opening Day starter. As manager Dave Roberts explained to reporters at the team’s spring training camp in Arizona, the decision to place the long-time ace at the top of his rotation was not a difficult one.

“He’s earned it,” Roberts said, according to Matthew Moreno of DodgerBlue.com “He’s the right guy for the spot for 2021. For every reason he makes the most sense.”

With the team just over two weeks away from opening their title defense, Roberts’ decision to name Kershaw to the Opening Day spot was made easier by the left-hander’s performance in 2020. After enduring several years of decline, Kershaw performed admirably during the shortened season, not only avoiding the injury concerns that have tripped him up in the past but adding miles back to his deadly fastball.

Buoyed by his newfound durability, Kershaw not only earned a 2.16 era on the year but earned 1.7 wins above replacement in just ten games on the season. Even more importantly, the future Hall-of-Famer finally secured his first World Series title in his career, after a gutsy Game 5 performance in the World Series in which he held the Tampa Bay Rays to a mere two runs.

While Bauer will not get the chance to open the season for the club, the defending NL Cy Young award winner will have ample opportunities to make his mark with the Dodgers this season. Not only is he the only Los Angeles pitcher projected to approach 200 innings this year, but he has expressed his desire to pitch every four days rather than the traditional five.

Though Kershaw is unlikely to care when Bauer takes the mound, the left-hander has made clear, Opening Day is his.