온라인바카라 Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw’s late-season velocity drop is causing concern.
Kershaw started a road game against the Miami Marlins on June 6 at Rondipo Park and allowed three runs on five hits and five walks over five innings. It wasn’t a win or loss, but the Dodgers took a 3-6 knee.
Kershaw had been on the IL since early July with a shoulder injury and returned on August 11. However, he is still pitching cautiously. Prior to his injury, he was pitching consistently and reliably enough to be considered a Cy Young contender, but he hasn’t found his groove since returning.
Two things stood out about Kershaw’s performance today. The five walks he allowed and the fact that his fastball was under 90 mph.
It was only the second time this season that Kershaw has given up five or more four-seamers in a game, the other being on May 6 against the San Diego Padres. While he minimized the runs with his veteran command, both his command and velocity were among the worst of the season.
Through 84 pitches, Kershaw’s fastball topped out at 89.9 mph and averaged 88.2 mph. His average velocity was 2.9 mph less than his season average of 91.1 mph. It’s also the first time in his career that his fastball has been below 90 mph.
After the game, Kershaw said, “I didn’t feel good. My control and everything was bad. I have to try to get better. It’s definitely not something else. I’m going to throw better.” He continued, “My delivery and command was just bad. I need to make some adjustments, and I’ll talk to (pitching coach Mark Pryor). Hopefully we can come up with something that will help.”
However, manager Dave Roberts had a different take: “Kershaw is not where we want him to be. His shoulder is not at the point where he can throw like he normally does,” Roberts said. “We want to see him pitch effectively and competitively, but it’s clear that his command is down.”
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Austin Barnes hits a grounder to second base during the seventh inning. AFP
The signs of Kershaw’s rapid decline were evident in his last start, on August 30 against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. He struck out five and walked three in five innings, and his fastball topped out at 91.3 mph and averaged 89.5 mph.
After striking out the side in the first inning, Kershaw gave up a walk and two hits to load the bases in the second before getting Garrett Hampson to fly out to center to escape. He was in trouble again in the third, allowing a pair of singles, but retired Josh Bell and Jesus Sanchez on consecutive pitches to end the frame.
With a 2-0 lead in the fourth, he gave up a leadoff solo homer to Jake Berger and then got Nick Portes to pop out to shortstop with runners on first and second to prevent further damage. But in the fifth, he gave up a two-run double to Bell with the bases loaded to cut the deficit to 2-3. Kershaw’s ERA deteriorated slightly from 2.48 to 2.61.
The Dodgers, who are 1-4 in their last five games, are 84-63. Atop the NL West, the Dodgers have a 14-game lead over second-place Arizona, so they shouldn’t have any trouble winning the division. However, they are six games behind the NL’s first-place Atlanta Braves.
Even if the Dodgers make the postseason, they will likely be eliminated early if Kershaw does not return to form. The Dodgers effectively lost Julio Urias for the season after he was arrested for domestic violence.