Clayton Kershaw, the reigning National League MVP and Cy Young award winner, is having another phenomenal season to add to his Cooperstown resumé. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace is first in the NL in strikeouts, complete games, second in WHIP and third in ERA.
However, one statistic that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is closely monitoring are the left-hander’s innings pitched. According to Bill Plaschke of the LA Times, the Dodgers skipper recently said he’s going to be mindful of Kershaw’s workload down the stretch:
We’re gonna take care of him, for sure,” Mattingly said. “He can be difficult when it comes to those kinds of things, but obviously we have to make the decisions we feel like are best for him. We’ll keep an eye on him for sure.”
After finishing second in 2013 with 236 innings pitched, Kershaw is on pace to top the Majors this season. He takes the mound Monday night leading all pitchers with 201 innings under his belt, which is already more than the 198.1 he threw in 2014 — a season in which he missed time due to a teres major injury in his left shoulder.
Along with keeping track of Kershaw’s innings, Mattingly is doing the same with Zack Greinke. He removed the right-hander after eight shutout innings and 93 pitches on Sunday, which he explained was a preventative measure, via Bill Plunkett of the O.C. Register:
We’re at the point in the year where if I can keep an inning off him, I’m going to try to keep an inning off him and try to keep him as strong as I can,” Mattingly said. “With him and Clayton both, they pitch deep into every game so the innings just pile up. So when I get a chance to get him out of there with a good pitch count where he didn’t have to work too hard, I’m going to do it. I’m going to save those bullets for the games that I need him.”
After tying a career high with 132 pitches in a complete game against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 2, Kershaw was given an extra day of rest before his next start. Tinkering with the rotation to get his starters extra reast is a practice Mattingly has utilized when the Dodgers’ schedule has afforded him with the opportunity.
Greinke’s career high in innings pitched is 229, which he set during his Cy Young winning season in 2009. The 31 year old has already surpassed 200 innings pitched for a second consecutive season and is in the midst of a career year.