Very few things in sports are as sacred as the pitcher and catcher relationship. Nearly every pitcher has a preference to which catcher he would prefer throwing the bulk of his innings to. And for Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, that’s been just the way it was with catcher A.J. Ellis.
However, now things might be changing just a tad. That is, of course, if you are to take new manager Dave Roberts at his word that every pitcher is going to work with every catcher in an effort to get used to one another so that there’s no real trouble spots during the season as far as that goes.
“I think, for me, it serves everyone better when each catcher is familiar with every pitcher,” [manager Dave] Roberts said. “There is some good with that (comfort level of throwing to the same catcher all the time) but I think I’m more on the side that it’s better when catchers are familiar with every pitcher.”
There’s definitely nothing wrong with this. And, as Plunkett goes on to note in his article, Kershaw actually had a lower ERA with Yasmani Grandal (1.62) last season than he did with A.J. Ellis (2.44). His batting average against and strikeout-to-walk ratio were also better with Grandal.
This isn’t to say that Kershaw is just going to kick Ellis to the curb. There’s obviously a “comfort level” that has been built up between those two over the years. You pitch to who you are comfortable with. Kershaw’s clearly comfortable with Ellis, but that doesn’t mean he won’t pitch to Grandal more.
Last season, Grandal caught just 89 of Kershaw’s 232.2 innings. That leaves 143.2 innings, or 61.5 percent of his total innings last season, thrown with Ellis behind the plate putting down the signs. We’ll see if Grandal catches Kershaw more this season, but it seems like a smart thing to bank on.