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Dodgers: Austin Barnes All But Named Clayton Kershaw’s Personal Catcher

Look, you know it, I know it, we all already knew it. For Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, he likes throwing to his guys. His guys meaning his favorite catchers.

For years it was the veteran AJ Ellis behind the dish for some of prime Kershaw’s greatest hits. Nowadays, it’s Austin Barnes. And despite Dave Roberts trying to talk his way out of calling Barnes Clayton’s personal catcher, the writing is on the wall already.

In huge letters.

On Friday, Doc was pressed on it a bit and, while he talked out days where the club wants to give Will Smith a day off, he reluctantly almost agreed about the Kershaw/Barnes tandem for the first time. 

The thing about Clayton is that he’s willing to do whatever we ask, but the synergy that he and Austin have, I think it’s real. And you gotta appreciate it.

Barnesy has caught Kersh a total of 39 games over their 4+ seasons together. Clayton owns a 2.68 ERA in 235 innings with Barnes as his batterymate. With Smith, the Dodgers ace has 3.39 ERA in only 66.1 IP over 13 games together.

So, it’s not to say that Kershaw is bad with Will, he’s just better with Austin.

Roberts continued on to explain the relationship.

I think it’s just that they have history. This is a four year history that they’ve built a relationship and think along the same lines. And, obviously, Austin’s skill behind the plate as well … but I think that the last time Will caught Clayton was in Arizona and Clayton just wasn’t good, to be quite franks. So it didn’t matter who was catching him. But I still believe the body of work that Austin and Clayton have, there’s something to it.

With the playoff formatting looking different this year, and no need for travel days, teams will have fewer off-days in each round. And with that, Doc sweet talked his way around the fact that, while he doesn’t like the terminology “personal catcher”, Austin Barnes is essentially Clayton Kershaw’s personal catcher in 2020.

NEXT: Dave Roberts Stresses the Need for Julio Urías to Pitch Well From the Start

Clint Pasillas

Clint Pasillas has been writing, blogging, and podcasting about the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Bobby Miller, and any Dodgers of the future. Under Clint, Dodgers Nation has grown into one of the most read baseball sites in the world with millions of unique visitors per month. He's a golf enthusiast, an amateur wood worker, and a friend.


  1. Unfortunately. Roberts does this at the expense of sitting a hot productive bat in Will Smith on the bench. But we also know Doc has done this type of thing before. A playoff series is not a time to be playing favorites and both Roberts and CK should know and realize it, considering the team’s offense usually struggles in October.

    1. There is no such thing as a personal catcher who can’t hit. Barnes is hitting 270 right now, so let him catch for Kershaw. But if he drops back to the Mendoza line of the last few years, he becomes instantly expendable. Will Smith is hitting over 300 as of late. And he has power to go with it. Nobody knows if it will last. But he has earned the starter role. It is always smart to have two capable catchers, because they take a beating during the course of the season. Let Barnes catch for Kershaw as long as he’s hitting. The catcher spot was a glaring weakness at the beginning of the season. Now it’s a strength. The Mookie Betts hitting school has probably saved Barnes’s career.

  2. Will Smith does have a hot bat right now, but Barnes has also been hitting a lot better this year with the help of Betts. I say leave Barnes with Kershaw, they have a good chemistry.

  3. Well we shall see how that chemistry works come playoff time. But in any event it’s extremely doubtful the Dodgrrs will score anywhere close to the 15 runs in a PS game anyway, as the team will face better pitching in October

  4. Here we go again! Keep the hot hitter on the bench and start someone who realistically can barely hit his weight! I just don’t get it with Doc. Keep the pedal to the metal right to the end. Please!!!!

  5. I really don’t care what Clayton says. To me if I was Dave Robert’s I let Will Smith to handle all the pitching stuff, no questions ask. He is the best man for the position. They need to get rid of Barnes the end of this season. So next year they need to bring Ruiz.
    Also one very important thing I like to say that I don’t like the way Dave Roberts changes players every day. The players are hungry to play. But he is hurting Belinger to develop right. Changing positions everyday is not good thing. Why don’t he do that with Betts , probably he gets fired. This way he is not going to a tittle.
    Dodger blue Rosendo 4ever…

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