Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch Monday evening for the first time since he was removed from his season debut after tossing seven perfect innings, as the Los Angeles Dodgers open a three-game series against the World Series champion Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium.
Despite being denied the chance to complete a perfect game or no-hitter, Kershaw said manager Dave Roberts made “the right choice” in removing him from Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis after he threw 80 pitches, his team-imposed limit.
“We’re trying to win,” Kershaw said. “That’s really all we’re here for. As much as I would’ve wanted to do it. … I’ve thrown 75 pitches in a (simulated) game (but) I hadn’t gone six innings, let alone seven. Sure, I would’ve loved to do it, but maybe we get another chance, who knows?”
Roberts defended the decision as being “for the best interest of the player, their health and the ballclub, because there’s a lot of people that are cheering for the Dodgers, not only just for today and Clayton to throw a no-hitter, but for the Dodgers to win the World Series.
“For us to do that, we need him healthy,” Roberts said.
Monday’s game could also be the first time three-time All-Star Kenley Jansen faces the Dodgers, the team with which he spent his first 12 seasons. The right-handed closer signed a one-year contract worth a reported $16 million with the Braves March 18.
Meanwhile, Dodger first baseman Freddie Freeman is expected to face the team with which he spent the first 12 seasons of his major league career for the first time. The five-time All-Star Game and National League MVP during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season left the Braves to sign a six-year contract worth a reported $162 million with the Dodgers March 19.
Right-hander Huascar Ynoa will make his second start of the season for Atlanta. He allowed five runs and seven hits in three innings and was charged with the loss in an 11-2 loss to the Washington Nationals last Monday.
The game is the first between the teams since the Braves’ six-game victory in the 2021 National League Championship Series. Of the 27 Dodgers who played in the NLCS, 17 are on their 28-player active roster. Of the 26 Braves who played in the NLCS, 14 are on the active roster.
The Dodgers enter Monday’s play with a six-game winning streak. Their 7-2 record matches the San Francisco Giants’ for the best in baseball. The Dodger pitching staff leads MLB in lowest opponents’ batting average (.175), as well as walks and hits per inning pitched (0.91).
Atlanta is 5-6 after splitting a four-game series at San Diego.