Dodgers scratch Clayton Kershaw from opening day start, replace him with Dustin May

Jack Baer
Writer

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed Clayton Kershaw on the injured list with back stiffness on Thursday, just hours before he was supposed to take the mound for his opening day start.

Dodgers right-hander Dustin May has been recalled to fill Kershaw’s roster spot. Dave Roberts later revealed that May would also fill in as the Dodgers’ opening day starter Thursday night against the Giants.

Roberts told reporters that Kershaw’s issue began in Tuesday while working out in the weight room, and that he doesn’t have a timetable for Kershaw’s return, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

Kershaw has had back issues before

Thursday was set to be Kershaw’s ninth opening day start in the last 10 years, but he will now begin the season on the sidelines. Back issues have been a problem for Kershaw in the past, as he landed in the IL in 2016 with a mild disc herniation and in 2017 and 2018 with other back issues.

Kershaw had been looking to re-establish himself as an ace in 2020 after a good, but not great 2019 season. In 178.1 innings last year, Kershaw posted a 3.03 ERA, 1.043 WHIP and 189 strikeouts. A great season for nearly any other pitcher, but that ERA represented Kershaw’s highest mark since his rookie year in 2008.

Clayton Kershaw is out for opening day. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Dodgers turn to star prospect Dustin May

While replacing a pitcher like Kershaw on opening day would be a blow to other teams, the Dodgers simply reached into their seemingly limitless supply chain of young arms.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 23 prospect in baseball, May made a short appearance with the Dodgers in 2019 and impressed with an arsenal led by a sinker that averaged 96.0 mph, per Statcast. And it moves like this:

May ended up posting a 3.63 ERA in 14 appearances and four starts with the Dodgers. The team optioned him at the end of summer camp on Wednesday, but now it will turn to him to open its season a day later.

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