Jason Motte expected to begin season on disabled list with elbow strain

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The Cardinals will have to get by without their closer for the start of the season.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Jason Motte was diagnosed with a “mild strain” of his right elbow following an MRI. The Cardinals plan to shut him down for at least the next week, so with the start of the season just nine days away, a stint on the disabled list is inevitable.

Motte felt discomfort in his elbow after his most recent appearance Thursday afternoon against the Mets. He was sent for an MRI yesterday after the pain intensified. There’s no clear timeline for his return, as the Cardinals will try to get the inflammation to subside and go from there.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that Mitchell Boggs will get the first opportunity to fill in at closer during Motte’s absence. The 29-year-old right-hander had a 2.21 ERA and 58/21 K/BB ratio over 73 1/3 innings last season. Losing one of the best closers in the game obviously hurts, but the Cardinals have no shortage of quality arms.

Clayton Kershaw to make Opening Day start for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Opening Day
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it in March and he confirmed it again on Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Dodgers are one of four teams that will open the 60-game regular season schedule on July 23; everyone else begins play on the 24th. With a 10 PM ET start, the Dodgers will host the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Johnny Cueto will likely pitch opposite Kershaw for the Giants. Cueto was named the Giants’ Opening Day starter on March 11, before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t yet officially named an Opening Day starter for the makeshift season.

Kershaw, 32, made the Opening Day start eight consecutive times for the Dodgers from 2011-18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, now a Blue Jay, pitched on Opening Day last season for the Dodgers. Last year, Kershaw logged 178 1/3 innings over 28 starts and one relief appearance, his highest innings total since 2015. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 189 strikeouts, and 41 walks.