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Dodgers Place Clayton Kershaw on IL With Back Stiffness

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Hours before Clayton Kershaw was supposed to take the mound against the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day, the Los Angeles Dodgers placed him on the injured list with back stiffness. The team recalled pitcher Dustin May to replace him and make the start Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

Thursday would have marked Kershaw's ninth career Opening Day start. His eight-year streak of Opening Day starts was snapped last season when he began the year on the IL with shoulder inflammation.

Kershaw averaged over 31 starts per season from 2009-15. In the four years since, he's averaged 25.5 starts and 166 innings per season. The three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP has a 169-74 record over his 12-year career and his lifetime 2.44 ERA is the best among active starters.

May, 22, was initially left off the 30-man roster but will now be the Dodgers' Opening Day starter. He will become the first Dodgers rookie to start on Opening Day since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

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May, one of the team's top pitching prospects, debuted last season, appearing in 14 games with four starts. He went 2-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 34 2/3 innings, with 32 strikeouts and four walks.