This spring has not gone as smoothly for the Dodgers as many of us would have imagined. Fans had high hopes coming into this year, especially for a team with 3 former Cy Young Award winners in the rotation and a pair of possible future ones. However, this rotation doesn’t look remotely close to ready for the 2021 season.
The worst performer this spring has been Clayton Kershaw, which may or may not come as a shock to Dodgers fans. While he has been the ace of the staff for the past decade, should we be worried about his production this year? The 33-year old veteran kicks off the season this upcoming Thursday against the Colorado Rockies, but seeing how much he’s struggled may leave little excitement.
Even though his past couple of appearances don’t hold any weight, fans have every right to be skeptical. This has hands down been his worst spring training. The last time he posted similar numbers was back in 2014.
2014 Spring Training
- 4 starts, 14 2/3 innings
- 9.20 ERA, 20 hits (3 home runs) allowed
- .317 batting average allowed
2021 Spring Training
- 4 starts, 12 1/3 innings
- 10.22 ERA, 21 hits (3 home runs) allowed
- .375 batting average allowed
Those are some very identical numbers. How did Kershaw fare that year you may ask? He went on to win his third Cy Young Award and be crowned the NL MVP. Now I’m not saying that will happen again this year or that he’ll come close to it, but it just goes to show that we shouldn’t read too much into it.
On that note, his velocity has taken a dip back down to around 89 MPH. Just having that diminished velocity could and possibly should lead to some trouble down the road.
Still, Kershaw has shown that he can be a productive pitcher without having a low 90’s fastball. Besides his rookie season, his worst year was in 2019 when he went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA and career-worst 28 home runs allowed. Although it was a down year by his standards he still managed to be selected to the NL All-Star Team and finish 8th in CY Young voting.
In the event that Kershaw’s season leans more toward his 2019 performance, he would still be among the game’s better pitchers. While he may no longer be what he once was, he still has plenty of fuel left in the tank.