Over the last two plus seasons Clayton Kershaw has been limited to no more than 171 innings pitched. This season he tossed 161.1 frames, making 26 starts. Despite Kershaw’s diminished velocity, he’s still very good. Kershaw was 9-5 in 2018 with a 2.73 ERA. He posted a 1.041 WHIP and struck out 155 against 29 walks. But if you look at his peripheral stats, you can see a significant decline.
Just three years ago Kershaw was allowing only 5.9 hits per nine and struck out 301. He was striking guys out at a 11.6 per nine clip. In 2018 his numbers look much different. This season he’s allowing 7.8 hits per nine and striking out 8.6 per nine. We saw him give up five earned runs to the Giants in San Francisco on Saturday over five innings in the Dodger’s 10-6 win.
Even if Kershaw is no longer the most dominating presence in the National League, he’s still one of the very best all around. Perhaps a bit more streamlined. Perhaps a bit more finesse, less likely to rely on velocity and more likely to rely on precision control and keeping hitters off balance with sharp off-speed offerings. So we all expected that Kershaw would be opening the Dodger’s NLDS against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. But no so fast. The Dodgers announced that Kershaw will start game 2, with left hander Hyun-jin Ryu opening the Division Series in game 1.
Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 1 of the NLDS against the Braves on Thursday. Clayton Kershaw will start Game 2 on Friday. pic.twitter.com/xrYFkRJjCC
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 3, 2018
Maybe taking some of the pressure off of Kershaw will help him relax and perform better? The Dodgers do have a pretty formidable starting rotation with Ryu, (who is having an excellent season in his own right), rookie sensation Walker Buehler, and veteran curveball master Rich Hill. The Dodgers have some great arms, but all eyes will still be on the Dodger’s franchise hurler. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi recently stopped by the Jim Rome show to discuss Clayton Kershaw. Watch the video below.