Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw Velocity Down, Tenacity Up.

Following his 3-year extension in the offseason, Clayton Kershaw expressed belief that he could regain lost velocity and that he would be working on it in the offseason.  Dave Roberts however, has maintained that Kershaw can continue to be elite without it.  So far in 2019, Roberts has been right.

Although his velocity seems to be about the same as it was in 2018, Kershaw is showing he is still in the conversation with the best.  Through 3 starts, he is 1-0, has a 2.25 ERA and is holding opponents to just a .162 batting average.  Additionally, he has 21 strikeouts through 20 innings pitched and his WHIP is just .75.  While these stats are based on a small sample size and he probably needs 5-8 more starts before being eligible to be listed as a leader in any of these categories, his current performance would rank him 9th in NL ERA and 2nd in both WHIP and opponent batting average.

Kershaw’s Keys To Success So Far

So far, Kershaw has proven to be very effective without the velocity he sought to reclaim this off season.  Some of that effectiveness is the improved execution of his slider, some of it is the placement of his fastball, but it’s his tenacity that’s made him so effective thus far.  Kershaw is not only slide-tackling baserunners out at first, but he’s attacking them at the plate as well.  Of the 73 batters he’s faced, he has managed to get a first pitch strike on 42 of them.

Ultimately, this has lead to 16 of his 21 strikeouts this season.  The utilization of his slider and fastball are complimenting each other, often indistinguishable at the release.  Despite the lower velocity, Kershaw is growing more confident as he evolves into a Greg Maddux-esqe pitcher who relies on finesse, command, and experience.

Some have been quick to say that he has “fallen-off”, that he’s “mortal” now, no longer “best in the game”.  I say, the “best” learn to reinvent themselves, to not quit when the body can’t keep up like it used to.

Clayton Kershaw is showing us that he hasn’t been the best for so long simply because of his skill, but rather, because of his work ethic, his willingness to evolve… his heart.

Kershaw and the Dodgers enter Petco Park tonight to open a 3-game series against Manny “No Johnny Hustle” Machado and the San Diego Padres.

[button link=”https://dodgersnation.com/dodgers-series-preview-los-angeles-heads-to-san-diego-for-nl-west-showdown/2019/05/03/” type=”big” color=”red”] Dodgers Series Preview: Los Angeles Heads to San Diego for NL West Showdown[/button]

Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

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  1. Great article, Jason, your first? Someone who recognizes the greatness of Kershaw as a person as well as a pitcher.

    “Clayton Kershaw is showing us that he hasn’t been the best for so long simply because of his skill, but rather, because of his work ethic, his willingness to evolve… his heart.” – I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    1. Thanks Jim! Not my first article ever, but first with the great Dodgers Nation. Appreciate the kind words.

  2. Very happy to see Kersh rebounded from that two run dinger in the first. His velocity is down, and that makes him vulnerable. However, he snapped off some curve balls reminiscent of the old Kersh and that was wonderful to see. Lets see what his next start brings. Go Blue!!!

    1. That’s what the greats do, right? Make adjustments and stop the bleeding. Overall a good outing!

  3. Kershaw’s fastball will be his flaw to an even lager degree now that it appears he couldn’t regain any of what he lost in speed. He’ll need to be much more accurate in it’s placing as batters work the count to their benefit knowing they can catch up to it in deep counts. He isn’t Rich Hill with a cluster of different curve balls to throw to offset the loss in speed. The Dodgers will become dependent on him having an easier pitching opponent to aid him to a win.His high pitch count over three innings is also a hurt to him.

  4. “He isn’t Rich Hill with a cluster of different curve balls. . . ” Thank God for that!

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