GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw, signed to a three-year, $93 million extension over the offseason, was again named the Dodgers' Opening Day starter by manager Dave Roberts on Tuesday. The Dodgers open the season March 28 against Arizona at Dodger Stadium.It will be the three-time National League Cy Young Award
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw, signed to a three-year, $93 million extension over the offseason, was again named the Dodgers' Opening Day starter by manager Dave Roberts on Tuesday. The Dodgers open the season March 28 against Arizona at Dodger Stadium.
It will be the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner's ninth consecutive Opening Day start, extending his franchise record. The longest streak of all-time belongs to Hall of Famer Jack Morris, who started 14 straight for the Tigers (1980-90), Twins ('91) and Blue Jays ('92-93). Robin Roberts has the longest streak of Opening Day starts with one team, making 12 in a row for the Phillies from 1950-61.
• Most Opening Day starts by a pitcher
"It's very cool," said Kershaw. "The cliche it's just another game, but Opening Day symbolizes a lot of things. I'm excited about it. Being on the same team that long, a team with a long list of great starting pitchers, to be associated with them is kind of special."
Kershaw, who will turn 31 next month, enters his 12th big league season coming off a third consecutive year interrupted by injury. He was absent from the NL All-Star team for the first time after seven consecutive selections and finished lower than fifth in the voting for the NL Cy Young Award for the first time in seven years.
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Nonetheless, Kershaw had a season most pitchers would envy. He went 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA and totaled 191 1/3 innings, including the postseason. Although Kershaw had a dip in velocity and strikeout ratio, he finished the regular season ranking among NL leaders with at least 25 starts in ERA (fourth), strikeout-to-walk ratio (third), WHIP (fourth) and opponents' on-base percentage (fourth).
In 13 second-half starts, Kershaw went 6-1 with a 2.73 ERA, striking out 77 batters against 12 walks, while posting a 1.00 WHIP and holding batters to a .227/.255/.365 slash line.
After signing the extension, Kershaw said he had something to prove to critics who viewed decreased velocity as a sign his career was in decline. He dedicated the offseason to improving his flexibility and syncing his body with pitching mechanics.
Kershaw is 153-69 with a 2.39 ERA in 318 career games (316 starts) throughout his Major League career.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.