Josh Hader
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Josh Hader loses salary arbitration hearing

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The Brewers defeated ace reliever Josh Hader in their salary arbitration hearing, according to multiple reports (including MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand). Hader will make $4.1 million instead of the $6.4 million figure he filed at. The case appears to continue the precedent that saves are what are heavily valued for relievers in salary arbitration.

That, of course, is heavily outdated thinking. Hader has been one of the most valuable relief pitchers in the game since he first stepped foot in the big leagues. Milwaukee deployed him as a sort of tactical nuke for his first two seasons, throwing him into high-leverage situations regardless of when they arose. He assumed regular closing duties in 2019 and racked up 37 saves, a second consecutive All-Star appearance, and a second NL Reliever of the Year award.

The loss is a substantial one for Hader, as the $6.4 million mark would have been a much higher point for his salary to increase from in the following seasons. It’s also bad news for relievers who will follow in his shoes, who will still have to try to explain why they’re valuable despite not having a small mountain of saves to stand on. The outdated thinking at work in these hearings is something that the players are surely eager to change.

Teams have now won five of the six decided arbitration hearings this winter. The Dodgers’ Pedro Baez is the lone victor. That paltry win rate has to be concerning to the MLBPA.

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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.