Dodgers tab Kershaw Opening Day starter over Buehler

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts isn't quite ready to anoint Walker Buehler his official ace just yet.

Roberts on Monday announced the starting rotation for the Dodgers' season-opening series against the San Francisco Giants March 26-28, and longtime ace Clayton Kershaw is getting the ball on Opening Day.

Kershaw's recent battles with injuries, his declining numbers (though still superb by most pitchers' standards), and the emergence of Buehler had many wondering if this would be the year Roberts gave the ball to his 25-year-old right-hander rather than his veteran lefty, who turns 32 later this month, against his team's longtime rival at Dodger Stadium.

"It was, and I think that's a good thing," Roberts told reporters when asked if choosing between Kershaw and Buehler was a difficult decision. "What Walker has done, what we expect him to do this year, so I think that's a compliment to both players."

The Dodgers will go lefty-righty-lefty against the Giants, as David Price will start Game 3 of the season-opening series. The 34-year-old left-hander was acquired from the Boston Red Sox this offseason as part of the Mookie Betts trade.

The start will be Kershaw's ninth on Opening Day, extending his own franchise record. He had started eight straight Opening Days before missing last year because of shoulder soreness. Hyun-Jin Ryu got the start instead. Both Don Drysdale and Don Sutton started seven Opening Days for the Dodgers.

Kershaw was an All-Star last season, but he finished with an ERA higher than 3.00 for the first time since his rookie year. His 28 home runs surrendered was a career-worst mark and he has also not pitched 180 innings since 2015. But he is still only three years removed from tying for the major league lead with 18 wins and topping the National League with a 2.31 ERA in 2017.

Buehler was 14-4 last season, his .778 winning percentage tops in the National League among qualified pitchers. He was one of five NL pitchers in the majors to throw two complete games (two AL pitchers threw three), and he led the Dodgers in starts (30) and strikeouts (215).

--Field Level Media