Dodgers Prioritized Strategy With Slotting Clayton Kershaw 5th In Starting Rotation

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Walker Buehler not only supplanted Clayton Kershaw as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Opening Day starter for the 2022 season, but the left-hander isn’t scheduled to pitch during the three-game series against the Colorado Rockies.

The Dodgers instead decided on Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urias as their probables for the remainder of the Opening Series at Coors Field. Kershaw won’t make his 2022 regular season debut until Wednesday, facing the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

“Just kind of how it played out,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw slotting fifth in the starting rotation. “We’ve talked about this season and the start of this season as far as getting pitchers built up, and giving him the best opportunity.

“So to have him in the five slot allowed for him to get the full buildup, so now for him to go five (innings) and 75 (pitches), to then go into his first start, gives us a better chance not only that day but days following with him and managing the bullpen.”

Kershaw threw 75 pitches over five innings during a simulated game at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. That came on what would have represented a normal turn through the rotation as Kershaw had previously thrown 53 pitches and collected six strikeouts in his final Spring Training tuneup on April 2.

Overall, Kershaw threw 11.2 innings and allowed four earned runs across four Cactus League starts.

Is Clayton Kershaw healthy?

After going into the offseason recovering from a second brush with a left flexor tendon injury, Kershaw came away encouraged by his health after Spring Training.

Roberts echoed that sentiment and earlier in the week said injuries were not a factor as the Dodgers continued to deliberate how their Opening Day rotation would be set, and reiterated that stance on Friday.

“I told Clayton this is as good as I’ve seen him Day 1 of Spring Training in all my seven years with him. He’s in a really good spot,” Roberts assured.

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