Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Clayton Kershaw (Page 1 of 34)

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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For NLCS Game 2, Kershaw is the healthy choice

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs

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

By Jon Weisman

Clayton Kershaw has thrown 218 pitches since the playoffs began October 7, 117 of them in the five days preceding his start today in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

That’s a hearty if not quite outrageous amount, buoyed by the fact that Kershaw hasn’t had any physical complications since his return from a herniated disk in September.

“Fortunately for us, the back hasn’t been an issue since he’s come back,” Dave Roberts said, adding that the Dodgers are mainly monitoring his overall usage.

Kershaw has never let on that his arm has been fatigued in any previous postseason, but Roberts suggested that the lefty’s midsummer absence might have given him a little something extra this October.

“I think that the velocity’s played up,” Roberts said, “and he’s holding velocity. His pitch mix is right on point. … There’s a lot of bullets left in that arm this season.”

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Ruiz, Hernández in Game 1 lineup, Kershaw-Hill starting Games 2-3

NLDS-Game 5-Los Angeles Dodgers vs Washington Nationals

Cubs
Dexter Fowler, CF
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Ben Zobrist, LF
Addison Russell, SS
Jason Heyward, RF
Javy Baez, 2B
David Ross, C
Jon Lester, P
Dodgers
Howie Kendrick, LF
Justin Turner, 3B
Corey Seager, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrián González, 1B
Carlos Ruiz, C
Kiké Hernández, 2B
Joc Pederson, CF
Kenta Maeda, P

By Jon Weisman

Carlos Ruiz and Kiké Hernández will make their first 2016 postseason starts for the Dodgers, on a day the team confirmed that Clayton Kershaw will be the starting pitcher in Sunday’s Game 2 and Rich Hill in Game 3 at Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Ruiz had a two-run homer and RBI single off the bench in the National League Division Series, while Hernández will be making his 2016 postseason debut, taking the Chase Utley/Charlie Culberson spot at second base.

Dave Roberts cited Hernández’s athleticism, versatility and “the potential slug” for bringing him back into active duty.

“It was a tough decision with Charlie, but I think (Kiké) could pay a huge benefit for us,” Roberts said.

Otherwise, the Dodgers have their regular postseason lineup against a left-handed pitcher, with Yasiel Puig and Howie Kendrick subbing for Josh Reddick and Andrew Toles.

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Maeda to start NLCS Game 1, Kershaw for Game 2?

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Photos: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Kenta Maeda will start Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday, Dave Roberts confirmed, with Clayton Kershaw looking likely to make Sunday’s Game 2 start.

Kershaw was in good shape after Thursday’s late-night bullpen session that climaxed with the final seven pitches of the Dodgers’ National League Division Series clincher over Washington.

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The Dodgers’ biggest win since 1988

NLDS-Game 5-Los Angeles Dodgers vs Washington Nationals
By Jon Weisman

As I sat watching Clayton Kershaw throwing those pitches in Washington, trying to protect a one-run lead and save the Dodgers’ season, of course my mind hearkened to 1988, when Orel Hershiser was doing the same thing in the 12th inning in New York.

But just as present was 2009, Jonathan Broxton trying to protect a one-run lead and save the Dodgers’ season in Philadelphia.

Part of the problem was I was literally in the exact same seat, in our little half-office at home, watching on the same 13-inch television purchased in an era closer to Tommy Lasorda than Dave Roberts. It was the same moment, the same prayers, the same brain-crushing line between agony and ecstasy.

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