Clayton Kershaw is getting set for his second start of spring training on Wednesday, taking on the Colorado Rockies at Camelback Ranch. His first one wasn’t his most dominant outing, allowing three runs and five hits in three innings, but it was his first time pitching in a while, and his first real introduction to the new rules.
While Kershaw said the pitch clock didn’t bother him in his first start, he did say it was a bit of a distraction, as he found himself looking at it too often. But Kershaw will continue to get reps at spring training with the clock and the rest of the new rules, before starting year 16 with the Dodgers.
After his first start, in addition to being asked about the pitch clock, Kershaw was also asked about the new rules regarding pickoffs. Pitchers are only allowed to attempt two pickoffs per at-bat — if they attempt a third one and it’s unsuccessful, it’s an automatic balk. Kershaw said he doesn’t imagine it will be much of a difference for pitchers who are fast to the plate (per SNLA).
“Well ultimately, if you’re fast to the plate, it’s going to be hard to steal regardless,” Kershaw said. “Jon Lester proved that Jon Lester couldn’t really ever pick off and it was really hard to steal off of him. Because he held his times, he was quick to the plate. So, if you’re quick to the plate and you put it on the catcher to throw the guy out, it’s still going to be hard to steal, even if you’re fast. Between that and having at least one or two pickoffs, I don’t think it’ll be be too big of a deal. But people are saying people are going to run more. So I guess we’ll see.”
Kershaw is known to work pretty fast to the plate and he’s a lefty, so I don’t see him having too many issues holding runners, even with the new rules. But it’ll be something to keep an eye on, not just for Kershaw, but for the rest of the MLB’s pitchers. I do expect teams to be a little more aggressive stealing bases, which should add another level of fun to the game. But we’ll see how it all plays out when the regular season gets underway in a few weeks.
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