Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Clayton Kershaw (Page 1 of 34)

Clayton Kershaw and the value beyond a World Series

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Whether it happens on the first or last day of October, the 2018 Dodger season will end in a matter of weeks, and the legendary Clayton Kershaw, if healthy, will likely exercise his option to tear up his current contract and seek a new one.

It’s not that the $65 million Kershaw is promised from 2019-2020 isn’t a lovely sum. But at this moment, Kershaw is better positioned to go for his next big contract this winter, rather than taking the chance of having a better profile two years down the road.

It’s been six months since I last brought up this topic, and my opinion hasn’t changed. While other teams might engage in serious talks with Kershaw as a free agent, I still think the odds strongly favor him returning to Chavez Ravine on a new or extended deal. I explained why in great detail in the previous post, but to boil things down to a single thought: There is no franchise for whom Kershaw means more than the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it makes sense that their contract offer will reflect that.

It’s that point I wish to expand upon here.

Understandably, there will be no shortage of opinion out there that the Dodgers would be better off allocating their future resources somewhere besides Kershaw’s wallet. Sentiment be damned, the 30-year-old lefty is no longer at his peak, and the forthcoming decline could be anything from disheartening to downright ugly. That’s before considering that, although he has already missed parts of four of the past five seasons with injuries, Kershaw hasn’t had the single knockout blow that has sidelined him for an entire year. How long can he keep dodging that freight train?

I hear that. And I want to state, for everyone to see, that I don’t care. 

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For the first time since facing Matt Adams, Clayton Kershaw returns to St. Louis

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Sometime around 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday, Clayton Kershaw will throw his first pitch in St. Louis since … that one. 

It has been 47 months since Kershaw’s last pitch at Busch Stadium, 47 months since the curveball that Matt Adams pulverized for a three-run home run that cost the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the fourth and ultimately final game of the 2014 National League Division Series.

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The Dodgers might not have a 10-game winner this year

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Pitcher wins are a nuisance as a measure of success and basically only qualify as trivia, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be interesting or deeply weird trivia.

And it’s interesting and deeply weird that for the first time in franchise history, the Dodgers might not have a single pitcher win 10 games this season.

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Which starting pitchers should move into the bullpen for the Dodgers?

Kenley Jansen’s absence puts more pressure on the rest of the Dodger pitching staff to step up.
(Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

All summer long, the big question for the Dodger pitching staff has been which relievers would serve as the bridge to Kenley Jansen.

But with the distressing news that Jansen will be sidelined at least into September with an irregular heartbeat, we now have to ponder not only the bridge, but the destination.

You can read all the options the Dodgers have available in my recent review of the Dodger pitching staff, and Dustin Nosler of Dodgers Digest has a post up today looking specifically at who might close in Jansen’s absence.

My focus today is on the fact that it’s obvious that the Dodgers, who will soon have seven starting pitchers available with the impending returns of Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu from the disabled list, will need to move at least one starting pitcher to the bullpen — two if they don’t go with a six-man rotation.

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Who will represent the 2018 Dodgers at the All-Star Game?

A year after they sent six players to the MLB All-Star Game, it’s more likely than not that the Dodgers will rely on the “every team gets a guy” rule simply to get one player to Washington D.C.

We still have nearly two months before the game is played (so you can question why I’m even writing about this right now), but if I were to make a prediction about who the 2018 Dodger All-Star will be, I might just pick a guy who has played in only seven games so far this year: Clayton Kershaw.

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Walker Buehler’s time arrives for the Dodgers

Walker Buehler has a 2.00 ERA with 11 strikeouts in his first 10 innings for the Dodgers this year. (Michael Urakami/MLB.com)

Seems like Walker Buehler can take Rancho Cucamonga hotels out of his favorites on Waze.

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Previewing Brothers in Arms
Part Nine: The Magnificent Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is 30.

Born March 19, 1988 — seven months and one day before the Dodgers’ most recent World Series title — Kershaw has long been the prodigy, the exceptional, otherworldly wonder. But today, he enters baseball middle age.

Because of this big birthday, I juggled the order of my previews for Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition (pre-order now!), jumping ahead to the end. The final chapter of the book is on Kershaw, and Kershaw alone — such is his stature in the history of Dodger pitching.

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Clayton Kershaw and ‘Public Enemy No. 1,’ 10 years later: Where it all began

Believe it or not, Friday marked 10 years since Vin Scully announced Clayton Kershaw’s arrival with the debut of “Public Enemy No. 1.” (Sad to say I’m two days late with this anniversary post.)

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Why ‘Dodger for life’ looks good for Clayton Kershaw

Addressing the strong possibility that Clayton Kershaw will opt out of his contract with the Dodgers after the 2018 season, Dodger owner and chairman Mark Walter told Jon Heyman of FanRag (I still can’t believe that’s the name) Sports that the future Hall of Famer “should be a Dodger for life.”

Walter’s waxings are warmly welcome but shouldn’t be shocking. Short of seeing the front office and the pitcher side-by-side at a press conference, nearly every sign you might observe points to the Dodgers and Kershaw forming a more perfect union.

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Clayton Kershaw a convert to shifting — but not pitch clocks

Screenshot: Gammons Daily

Clayton Kershaw, I think it’s safe to say, was a shifting cynic when aggressive defensive maneuvering took center stage a couple years back. Speaking with David Vassegh in this interview that ran Friday on AM 570, Kershaw conceded that he had come around to embrace defensive shifts (which always made sense) …

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Seager, Roberts, Maeda finalists for top MLB awards

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Corey Seager is a finalist for both the National League Rookie of the Year Award and the NL Most Valuable Player Award, MLB and the Baseball Writers Association of America have announced.

Kenta Maeda is also one of the three NL Rookie of the Year finalists, while Dave Roberts is in the final countdown for NL Manager of the Year.

With Max Scherzer of the Nationals and Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester of the Cubs announced as finalists for the NL Cy Young, Clayton Kershaw’s streak of five consecutive top-three finishes has ended — though Kershaw still led NL pitchers in WAR despite being limited to 149 innings.

The winner of the NL Rookie of the Year Award will be announced November 14, followed by NL Manager of the Year on November 15, NL Cy Young on November 16 and NL MVP on November 17.

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As Dodgers enter offseason, young starters provide foundation for rotation

NLDS-Game 5-Los Angeles Dodgers vs Washington Nationals

By Jon Weisman

In 2015, the combined total of big-league starts by Jose De León, Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling and Julio Urías — not to mention Kenta Maeda — was zero.

This year, the four traditional rookies amassed 38, with Maeda good for another 32. Nearly half the starts for the 2016 National League West champions came from brand new Major Leaguers, with the team going 40-30 (.571) in those games, compared with 51-41 (.554) in games started by veterans.

Just to clarify for the paranoid: Over the coming offseason, the Dodgers will scour the trade and free-agent markets (which includes midseason acquisition Rich Hill) for starting pitchers that might bolster the 2017 rotation.

At the same time, this year’s rookie quintet already puts Los Angeles a step closer to alleviating the reliance on quantity in recent seasons (16 starters in 2015, 15 in 2016).

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Reflecting on a Dodger season that came so close

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs

By Jon Weisman

Late on Tuesday evening, it had started to feel real, more real than it had felt in a long, long time.

Three nights earlier, the Dodgers had nearly stolen Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, despite their most disadvantageous pitching matchup and coming off an exhausting National League Division Series. No matter — over the next two ballgames, the Dodgers completely shut down the best team in baseball during the regular season, allowing not a single Cub to score. The offense pushed across six runs in Game 3, the pitching was as rested as it had been in two weeks.

Los Angeles was two games away from the World Series with four to play.

Four nights later, the Dodgers went to bed with their season over, left to ponder how far they had gone, how close they had come and how short they fell.

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Will Kershaw bust seven-inning barrier in Game 6?

2016 NLCS Game 5---Chicago Cubs vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers
Andrew Toles, LF
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Josh Reddick, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Chase Utley, 2B
Clayton Kershaw, P
Cubs
Dexter Fowler, CF
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Ben Zobrist, LF
Javy Baez, 2B
Willson Contreras, LF
Addison Russell, SS
Albert Almora Jr., RF
Kyle Hendricks, P

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers have one big mountain to climb this weekend in the National League Championship Series, and in the process would surely benefit from Clayton Kershaw climbing a smaller one.

In 13 career playoff starts, Kershaw has completed the sixth inning 10 times, the seventh inning three times and beyond … not at all.

While Kenley Jansen is more than ready to go two innings in relief tonight, every extra out Kershaw might provide could be a benefit. And pitching on five days’ rest against a Cubs lineup he just shut out over seven innings, all is possible.

Two of Kershaw’s seven-inning starts came on short rest, when the Dodgers were glad for any effective innings they could get from their ace. He obliged, allowing one run in Game 4 of the 2015 National League Division Series before going that one better this week in NLCS Game 2.

The other was the opening game of the 2013 NLDS, when Kershaw struck out 12 while throwing a career postseason-high 124 pitches in a 6-1 victory over Atlanta.

Before Kershaw went on the disabled list this summer, length was one of his many calling cards. Nine times from April to June, Kershaw got at least one out in the eighth inning and seven of those times, he finished the eighth.

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Postseason star Clayton Kershaw shuts down Cubs to even NLCS

kershaw-pitching

By Jon Weisman

Surrounded by the bricks in Wrigley Field on a Sunday evening, Clayton Kershaw was a wall.

And no one blew him down.

Kershaw, kicking his October naysayers in the teeth with each inning he throws, combined with Kenley Jansen on a razor-thin 1-0 shutout, evening the National League Championship Series at one win for the Los Angeles Dodgers, one for the Chicago Cubs.

“It’s a good feeling,” Kershaw said in an on-field interview with Fox Sports 1 after the game. “I don’t know how to compare games or anything like that, but we needed this win tonight bad.”

This was the first 1-0 postseason victory by the Dodgers since Game 3 of the 1963 World Series (Don Drysdale three-hitter), and the first two-hit shutout in Dodger playoff history.

“Awesome. Watching Kersh, that shows he’s the best in the game,” Jansen said. “His stuff that he had, the way that he pitched against this team. He showed you again, he can just put this team on his back.”

The Dodgers will take home-field advantage in the NLCS back to Dodger Stadium for Games 3, 4 and 5, Tuesday through Thursday.

“Going back home, splitting this series in Chicago, we like where we’re at right now,” Kershaw said.

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