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Dodgers Analyst Says Clayton Kershaw Has Fallen From Top Pitcher In Baseball

Jerry Hairston Jr. explains his feelings on Kershaw’s place amongst the elite.

A lot of talk exists about where Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting pitcher stands amongst the elite class within the sport. While Kershaw is paid as if he’s one of the best in the game, is he actually still the game’s best?

Interestingly enough on FS1’s new show Fair Game, Dodgers’ analyst Jerry Hairston Jr. took a stance on the topic. Within the video below, Hairston says that Kershaw is no longer the best pitcher in baseball and explains why.

When asked by the host if Kershaw was still the best in the game, Hairston Jr. answered quickly.

“Not anymore, and I think Clayton Kershaw would agree with me.”

Now, let’s look at the reasoning behind Hairston Jr.’s statement.

First off, Hairston Jr. says in so many words that Kershaw has a lot of mileage on his tires. Moreover, the heavy workload in his prime years could be affecting his current performance. Remember – as Hairston Jr. points out – the two were teammates during his prime.

“Clayton was so dominant for so long. Without question – for a nine or ten year run – he was the best pitcher on the planet. He won an MVP as a pitcher, that is next to impossible to do. We asked of him so much, he carried our team.

I joined him as a teammate in 2012 and 2013, and what we asked him to do is every fifth day; was to not only pitch well but pitch deep into ballgames. He exerted a lot of energy for so long. So now he’s in a phase in his early thirties, but he pitched a lot of innings when he was young too. Now, so maybe his age 31 or 32 is age 34 or 35 to him.”

Finally, Hairston Jr. has a theory on what Kershaw could do to help himself. Notably, he believes that re-inventing himself a little bit would help.

“He needs to learn another pitch, possibly a change-up to re-invent himself. I think this is an opportunity for him to do that.”

In closing, do you agree with Hairston Jr.’s assessment of Kershaw? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Clint Evans

Clint lives in Ohio, and played collegiate baseball. He loves the Dodgers due to his first memories of Chavez Ravine when he was nine years old. The voice of Vin Scully has been a staple in his life since he was a kid. No amount of baseball talk is ever enough, and he wishes the regular season was year round. He has written about baseball online since 2007.

38 Comments

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  1. KERSHAW IS NO LONGER THE TOP PITCHER IN BASEBALL!?! YA THINK??? Thanks for cluing us in on this piece of breaking news. And you are right Hairston, Kershaw would agree with you and he already knew it last season. Only trouble was that nobody told Dave Roberts, who probably thinks its time for Sandy Koufax to make a comeback!

    Kershaw still has plenty of game but it will come to pass by heavy reliance of his curve ball, sinking slider and change, not by use of the non existent hard slider and fastball that he showed he no longer has this past season. Kershaw will no have to use stratagem, cunning and guile in order to deliver to the Dodgers what he has done in the past. And he can’t give up home runs either which hopefully was an aberration.

    I expect he’s not at “Rich Hill” or “Scott Kazmir” level yet. But I think he will still give the Dodgers 6-7 inning a start and keep a modest ERA.

  2. BREAKING NEWS… JERRY HARISTON REVEALS THAT CLAYTON KERSHAW IS NOT WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS AND WILL NOT BE A DODGER ACE ANY LONGER!!!!

    Ya think??? We all knew that at the start of last season. Even Kershaw admitted it. And now Hairston thinks this is breaking news? Where has Hairston been for the last 6 months? Makes one wonder…

    Kershaw will survive by perfect placement of curves, sinking sliders and change ups. He will only throw a hard slider or fastball (if you can call them hard) only in non-hitter counts when they are sitting on something slower. In essence, he will survive by stratagem, cunning and guile, much like Tommy John, Don Sutton and Don Drysdale and several others did in their twilight years. It won’t be “lights-out- blow-em out” like earlier in his career but he should still be one of the three best starters on the team, unless LA management surprises us all and actually pursues Gerritt Cole or some other top flight pitcher. A lot of teams would be happy with a lesser Clayton Kershaw. And so will we…

    • Sorry folks…the email system said my first post was not accepted. Didn’t mean to post twice.

  3. Why should we listen to a 16-year bench player with an oversized ego say disrespectful remarks against Clayton? Too many wooden splinters in his butt… now he’s a pitching “expert”? I think Guggenhiem needs to move him out NOW!

    • Guy played 16 years in the bigs. He’s forgotten more baseball than most of us will ever know, and some here know a lot. Hairston’s opinion on most things baseball is enough for me.

    • instead of knocking the guy for playing 16 years in the major league (which is absurd by you) why don’t you tell us why he’s wrong?

      oh because you can’t. he’s clearly not close to the best pitcher in baseball anymore.nobody who knows anything about baseball would think he was.

      • It is obvious Clayton is no longer #1. But for him to be bashed by some of the comments here is not acceptable. He was top 10 ERA in NL this year. Not bad for a has been. 16-5 win loss record. Not bad for a has been. #3 win percentage? Give the guy a break. He carried LA for years. Look at Koufax’s first 6 years. He had a losing record. And 3 4+ ERA’s. And then 6 years of greatness. Be thankful you have (we have) a Kershaw. He is a class act.

    • Because some Nimrod asked him the question, that’s why. We all know Clayton. He’s a good #3 now. Somebody just tell Orel and Joe to stop gushing over him like teenage girls over a stick of ruby red lipstick. Should have signed Verlander and Cole years ago, if we had, our boys would be playing ball right now instead of the Nats. I like Zach Wheeler or Corey Kluber. I think Strasberg goes home to San Diego and Cole to the Halos.

      • Corey Kluber would be a perfect Friedman pick up. His wheels are starting to fall off just like Kershaw’s. As far as throwing too many innings, what about guys like Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver who threw more complete games in a year than the babies do now in their entire careers. If Gerrit Cole goes to the Angels it will be for the money, not to win.

  4. Um, Jerry didn’t call a press conference or anything – he was just answering a question.

    I am quite certain Jerry has been aware of Kersh’s decline for quite some time.

  5. Thanks Captain Obvious! I’m so sick of people crapping on Kershaw! Just leave him alone. Does this guy really think Kersh doesn’t know he’s not the top pitcher? I adore Kersh and will always support him.

  6. Father Time has caught up to Kershaw! I totally agree with Hairston. Kershaw came into the league throwing 97mph, he now sits at 90-91mph, slider at 87-88, so basically the same speed, also agree he needs a change up to keep hitters honest, he basically needs to become Tom Glavine and become a “crafty southpaw”. Needs to keep the gopher balls to a minimum! Someone who once was the best pitcher on the planet is no better than a #3 in the rotation!

  7. It is so hard for me to hear this..I was a fan when he first started…I am still. !!!

    I will always be. !!!

    • Gloria…you and Dave Roberts have much in common. We need baseball guys calling the shots in our dugout. Time turns on us all, and baseball guys know that. It’s Buehlers turn, but he needs help. May, Gonsolin and maybe even Urias need their shots, but they’re going to have to earn their place in the 5/man.

    • The women who are commenting about Clayton are doing so about what a fantastic human being he is. A true humanitarian who will enjoy a special place in Heaven some day. Who can argue with that. There is only one problem that some cannot accept. Baseball is a game of “what have you done for me lately.” Clayton going forward would play a role in helping us win our division, but how would he be used on a post season roster? A strong case could be made to leave him off of future post season rosters unless he can re-invent himself. Leaving him off of post season rosters would unleash a firestorm of angry Kershaw loyalists, so that cannot even be a viable option. Remember, we parted ways with Hershiser, Sutton, Tommy John, Belcher, Welch, and other favorite Dodger pitchers when they showed signs of decline. Unfortunately, unless Clayton re-invents himself, that is the only viable option.

  8. Most fans who may have been watching Game 5 of the NLDS also saw those reactions by fans in the parking lot after that game with the running over of Kershaw jerseys in their cars. Kershaw no longer being ‘elite’ is nothing new now. but in all fairness, he was only a part of the reason the Dodgers went home for the winter after that NLDS loss.

    • Not easy for someone who works close with him every day and knows him as a colleague to come out and say this, I think is the big thing. I respect Hairston’s honesty.

    • So true. Our bats took the rest of the game off after the three run lead. And Doc pulled some horrible boners. Our boys sitting at home watching TV is not Claytons fault. Our offense as a whole is enamored with the big fly while I have been preaching contact and balls in play for years. When is it going to change??? I thought Verdugo and Pollach would help us with that last year and Pollach, as expected flamed out while the young buck Verdugo took his chance for granted and went home early.

    • AZUL, I just want to go out on a limb and state here and now that Hairston has mastered the obvious : Kersh is not the best pitcher in baseball. Its too bad our FO and manager didn’t see this coming before we lost the playoffs to the Nats. PD Jr. told me the same thing. Go Blue!!!!!

      • BLUE LOU! Bottom line here when all is said and done, is that this team was not built for the PS and the way Roberts shuffled players around on a daily basis in the lineups and the 3 ring circus of position switching did contribute to an offense that yearly ends up inept come October. Consistency and rhythm with the hitters takes a back seat at the wrong times as a result Honestly, i don’t believe things will be any better tnext year because I can all but guarantee Dodgers will operate with Roberts and all in the same way, shape and form and it is a joke to say the least..

  9. Clayton “Gunslinger” Kershaw (22) Obviously is not our Ace anymore Walker “Stellar” Buehler (21) is our new Ace with that said. Kershaw is still a competitive pitcher he still has a lot in the tank I believe he will reinvent himself with new pitching coach Mark Prior for 2020 because that’s who he is to do whatever it takes to Win it All.

    Front Office needs to sign starting pitcher Gerrit Cole it’s a must to get back to the 2020 World Series.

  10. I agree Kersh has lost alot on his FAST BALL.He would have a sneaky 96 and he had so many pitches to fool you with.Now his fast ball has dropped big time each year.Last year his fast ball was 88 or 89.
    Still he is better than some pitchers this year.Sandy Kofax to me was and is the best LA has had.Kersh is a close second.

  11. I believe Kershaw is one of the best regular season pitchers of all time but unbelievable how he’s always choked in the playoffs. Just a big stain on all that success. Just amazing, but just like the Dodgers success, all those records being broken, 7 division titles and a huge stain on all those accomplishments. The giants have world series championships, we have division title flags LOL!!! So sad.

    • Sorry boss but please check the number of championships the S.F. Giants have in comparison to the Dodgers.

  12. Kersh has been in decline for some time. The gopher balls have been on the rise every year for about 3 or 4 yrs in a row now. It’s been an across the board decline for he and Jansen as well. It’s so hard to take for Dodgers fans cuz they’ve been so good for us for so long but you just can’t deny that once the post season comes Kershaw’s a much less feared opponent than he used to be. If Kersh, would’ve pitched great, then Jansen would’ve gotten rocked and lost it for us I bet. Kersh is just one of those hard- luck guys who is never gonna win a title.

    • Lol yeah i mean WTF is w the Kershaw supporters! Guy sucks! Hes been a horrible bust in postseason for years! Im sick of seeing it! I mean 21 yr old Soto was like im so happy to see Kershaw bc hes a choker n i teed off on him lol! Like what balls that has but just overall what hitters think of this bum

  13. Yes I believe his work load was heavy for the last ten years, but really Was his fault. He’s was and still is very stubborn. He never wanted to come out of games and the managers are scared of him. Kershaw future in his remaining contract should be 6 innings at 80 to 90 pitches. That should be the norm if they want some value for the rest of his contract.

  14. Has not been the leagues top pitcher for awhile. His location is generally excellent but when it’s not, he is hittable. The really good hitters can tee off. Maybe another pitch helps…but not enough if his velocity remains 89-91 or lower.

    He is pitching with guile, but not enough. Have to treat him as your 3rd or 4th best pitcher.

  15. Kershaw did not lose the game for us. He only tied it. It was still winnable at that point before Kelly’s second inning, the questionable managerial decisions and the lack of hitting and scoring throughout the game. I hope he can adapt to not being the ace anymore but could be a valuable piece in the rotation. At least I hope so.

  16. A couple of years ago, we all started getting our knickers up in twist when the national commentators started saying that Kershaw had dropped below Scherzer, even though the numbers were showing that to be the case. Now, no one would argue that point, even though Scherzer is four years older. In terms of innings, they have the same mileage, but no one – right now – expects Kershaw to be pitching as well as Scherzer is now in four years. At this point we can only hope that Kershaw doesn’t crater like Felix Hernandez did. Could the Dodgers sign either Cole or Strasburg right now? Maybe not, but they need to try. Otherwise we have a number one (Buehler) and a bunch of 3-4-5s, which is the same situation we have had had since Greinke left.

  17. Well I mentioned yesterday somewhere that Dodgers more than likely WIIL NOT do the following:
    Sign Cole
    Sign Rendon
    Get Lindor in a trade
    But WILL do the following:
    Dumpster dive for pitching reclamation projects (starting and relief)
    Remain LH hitter heavy
    Shuffle lineups daily
    Shuffle players defensively.
    Will miss the PS

  18. It is not just that he is getting older. He has to recognize the level of players in the play offs are much better. Because he is pitching for a while the best hitters have seen him and unless he keeps reinventing himself he will be hit. It is like everything else in life. If you want to be new you have to reinvent yourself. You have to have a different pitching plan for post season. As a pitch, change speeds, location. Etc,

  19. Have ex-Dodger Tom Candiotti teach him his killer knuckleball, or have Fernando Valenzuela show him his screwball. Those 2 pitches would make Kershaw’s 91 mph fastball and his slider seem 5mph faster…

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