Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced to reporters in a video conference call that left-hander Clayton Kershaw will make his ninth Opening Day start when L.A. hosts the San Francisco Giants on July 23 to kick off a 60-game campaign delayed and shortened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Per ESPN News Services, Kershaw was scheduled to lead the Dodgers rotation in the previously scheduled Opening Day on March 26, when they were also slated to face San Francisco.
Kershaw sports a dominant 1.05 ERA in eight previous Opening Day starts, helping lead to a 5-1 career win-loss record.
First pitch is scheduled for 10:08 p.m. ET at Dodger Stadium. It is the second of two games to kick off the 2020 MLB season on July 23, with the New York Yankees visiting the Washington Nationals earlier in the evening.
Kershaw, a three-time National League Cy Young winner and five-time ERA titleholder, is 169-74 lifetime with 2,464 career strikeouts in 12 career seasons. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA and 189 punchouts in 178.1 frames in 2019.
The southpaw helped lead the Dodgers to back-to-back NL pennants in 2017 and 2018. L.A. had the league's best regular-season record at 106-56 in 2019 before losing to the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals in the NL Divisional Series.
The Dodgers are looking to return to the World Series for the third time in four years behind a rotation that includes Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Alex Wood. The fifth spot is up for grabs after left-hander David Price opted out because of COVID-19 concerns regarding himself and his family.
In the field, newly acquired Mookie Betts will anchor the Dodgers lineup with 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger.
Betts, the 2018 American League MVP, was traded to Boston in the offseason that also brought Price into the mix. He'll join a stacked lineup that also includes Max Muncy, Corey Seager and Justin Turner.
As for their rivals, the Giants' Opening Day starter figures to be Johnny Cueto, who was slated to start the original opener in March, per Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. Former staff ace Madison Bumgarner left the team in free agency for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In the field, the Giants are looking to begin a new era after hiring Farhan Zaidi to run baseball operations and selecting Gabe Kapler as their new manager.
Notable returnees include three-time World Series champion catcher Buster Posey, first baseman Brandon Belt and outfielder Mike Yastrzemski.