Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw will make his season debut when the Dodgers face the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

Kershaw, 34, is entering his 15th season with the Dodgers. The three-time Cy Young Award winner owns a 185-84 career record with a 2.49 ERA and 2,670 strikeouts in 2,454 2/3 innings.

Yet Kershaw is the Dodgers’ fifth starter this season — at least on paper.

Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said he wanted to give the veteran left-hander extra time to strengthen his arm.

“Just kind of how it played out,” Roberts said. “We’ve talked about this season and the start of this season as far as getting pitchers built up and giving him the best opportunity.

“So to have him in the five slot allowed for him to get the full build-up, so for now for him to go five (innings) and 75 (pitches), to then go into his first start, gives us a better chance not only that day but days following … and managing the bullpen.”

Kershaw in March signed a one-year deal to stay with the Dodgers. He is coming off an up-and-down 2021 season in which he went 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA in 22 starts but battled an elbow injury that cost him part of the regular season and all of the playoffs.

Although Kershaw avoided surgery, he needed to rest his arm after receiving an injection in his elbow.

“We’re going to be cautious this time,” Kershaw said. “I’ve never given it the rest it’s needed, for whatever reason, trying to get back for the postseason. Really, I just came back too soon the first time, so I’m going to be cautious this time.”

Kershaw hasn’t faced the Twins in his career. He is 25-5 with a 2.08 ERA in 45 career interleague starts. During those contests, he has walked 61 and struck out 334 in 303 innings.

Minnesota will counter with right-hander Chris Paddack, who will make his team debut after the Twins acquired him from the San Diego Padres just before the start of the season. Paddack, 26, is 20-19 with a 4.21 ERA in 61 career games (60 starts), all of which have come for San Diego.

In six career outings against the Dodgers, Paddack is 1-3 with a 7.07 ERA, having allowed eight homers in 28 innings.

A move north to Minnesota seems to have energized Paddack.

“I’m still the same guy but just want a fresh start,” he said after the trade. “Being a younger guy, I learned a lot over the years, but I’m excited for the new journey.”

The Dodgers won the opener of a two-game series 7-2 on Tuesday night in a four-hour contest that was delayed 88 minutes because of rain. Will Smith and Gavin Lux notched two RBIs apiece, and Freddie Freeman finished 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run.

The Twins’ Max Kepler went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI while Carlos Correa finished 2-for-3 with two doubles, but the rest of the Minnesota lineup went 1-for-27.

–Field Level Media