Clayton Kershaw to start on Opening Day for seventh straight year

ByDoug Padilla ESPN logo
Saturday, February 18, 2017

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In one of the more obvious decisions of the 2017 major league season, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on Saturday officially named Clayton Kershaw as his Opening Day starter.

Kershaw will make his seventh consecutive Opening Day start when the Dodgers begin the season at home April 3 against the San Diego Padres.

The seven starts in an opener will tie a Dodgers franchise record, also accomplished by Don Drysdale and Don Sutton. Sutton is the only Dodgers pitcher to start seven consecutive openers. The last Dodgers Opening Day starter before Kershaw was Vicente Padilla in 2010.

"Obviously Clayton will be the starter and do what he does," Roberts said. "I'm looking forward to having all of us there in Los Angeles."

What Kershaw does in openers is simply dominate. He has a 0.93 ERA in his six Opening Day starts, throwing 38 2/3 innings in those games. He has 44 strikeouts to six walks and has allowed only 22 hits. He is 4-0 to kick off the season, and the Dodgers have won all six of those games.

"Any time you get to do it is special. ... It's always fun to get the season going and to be a part of it," Kershaw said. "I'm thankful that I have done it for so long and with the same team. Not many people get to do that, so it's pretty cool."

Kershaw also faced the Padres on Opening Day last season, dominating with seven innings of one-hit ball at San Diego. He had nine strikeouts to one walk.

Kershaw's consecutive Opening Day streak is the longest in the National League and the second longest in the majors to the Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez, who has started every opener since 2009.

The Dodgers also officially announced Saturday that Chase Utley has agreed to a one-year deal. The veteran will make $2 million plus incentives, according to ESPN sources and multiple reports, to fill what is expected to be a bench role.

Roberts said that Utley could see time as a backup second baseman and first baseman but that he is not expected to spend any time at third base.

"It's no secret that I'm not getting any younger," Utley said. "I understand that things change and that if I want to be part of a winning organization, there's a possibility that I take this kind of role."

To make room on the 40-man roster for Utley, infielder/outfielder Darin Ruf was released. Ruf is expected to play in Korea this season for the Samsung Lions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.