I recently got rid of most of my autographed baseball collection, but I kept three:
- Steve Garvey – Because my son got it for me thinking I would like it;
- Vin Scully – For obvious reasons, like the greatest announcer of all time; and
- Clayton Kershaw – Nobody likes him more than me. I have argued for a long-time that he will go down in history as the greatest Dodgers pitcher of all time (something for which I have been repeatedly belittled). The kid in the picture with Clayton is my son, who was 8 at the time (at Wrigley Field). He’s now 17. The ball is really his.
The point is: I love Clayton Kershaw and while I agree that any player is expendable, I would suggest that FAZ is talking to Kershaw about staying a Dodger for life as we speak. In case, you don’t know, I have the highest regard for Clayton Kershaw, which makes what I am about to say so painful: If not for Clayton Kerhsaw, the Dodgers might have won the pennant. Of course, without him, they would have never gotten to that point!
Now, mind you, I am not saying it’s all his fault, but here it was: The Great Clayton Kershaw against The Very Good Jon Lester and yet Clayton was cuffed around pretty good. It could be argued that his last game of the season was his worst game of the season. Now, if he was injured, I apologize to you Clayton, but if not, this was a shutout waiting to happen. Then the Dodgers had Rich Hill who also looked unhittable in his last outing and lo’ and behold, that’s the pennant. Only problem was – it didn’t happen.
Clayton Kershaw is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. There is every expectation that he would have pitched a shutout… maybe a perfect game – he’s that good. But, when I saw him throwing 95, 96 and 97 MPH, I felt he was doomed. Clayton pitches best at 92-94 – his pitches have more movement at that speed, it seems to me.
His slider and curve weren’t working. In my mind, I think it was because he was amped up, psyched up and overthrowing. Clayton is highly competitive, highly emotional and highly energetic. He’s one of the hardest workers in baseball… maybe any sport, but in a clutch highly charged situation, sometimes you have to “dial it down.” But, is that something he can do?
Over his 9 years in the major leagues, Clayton is 126-60 with a career 2.37 ERA. Some pitchers get close to a 2.37 ERA in a career year, but with Clayton, that’s just his average. His strikeout to walk ratio is insane. He’s so good during the regular season that you are surprised when he gives up 3 runs! But in the playoffs, he is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA. That’s almost twice what he does in the regular season!
Now, I will give you that while his regular season WHIP is 1.007, his playoff WHIP is only a little higher at 1.157, which suggests that he has been unlucky to some degree. Yes, that is some of it, but Clayton has not been the same pitcher in the playoffs as he has been in the regular season.
“Trade the Bum!” That’s not even an option insofar as I am concerned. I say “Fix him” and I also think it’s easier than we might think. I want Clayton on my team, but I want him to achieve what he is capable of achieving. I don’t think he a choke artist – I just think he gets amped up too much.
How to fix it? There are probably a myriad of ways: Yoga, Pilates, Meditation, Visualization, Zen and on and on. I can’t fix it. You can’t fix it. Only Clayton can fix it if he wants to.
The Dodgers really didn’t lose because of Clayton Kershaw, but they very might have won if he had been the Clayton we see during the season. Here’s the million dollar question: Is he open to change?
He has to change something. He’s still my guy!