Clayton Kershaw made his Cactus League debut for the Dodgers on Friday afternoon against the Brewers. While it’s still early and you cannot take too much out of a small sample size, Kershaw looked exceptionally sharp.
Clayton Kershaw removed after 1 2/3 innings — 26 pitches in the second inning with two walks. 37 pitches total. Fastball 91-93 mph.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 28, 2020
The two walks and 37 pitches in the second inning obviously jump out as negative, but he looked to be trying to mix in pitches. After all, that’s what Spring Training is for. Kershaw’s slider bit hard, and his curveball proved to be exceptionally effective in the outing. Ryan Moseley came on in relief for the Dodgers with runners on.
More importantly, Kershaw’s fastball had some surprising zip on it. It’s only the first outing of the season, and he was sitting between 91-93 mph. Kershaw’s average fastball velocity was the lowest of his career in 2019 at just 90.3 mph. That qualified him for the 15th percentile in the league.
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After the outing, the lefty spoke with Dave Vassegh of AM570 about the results.
It felt great. It was awesome. I might not have hit one spot today, but physically, I felt like the ball was coming out well, it was breaking the right way, and now it’s just figure out how to throw strikes. Throwing four-seamers, you want the ball to have life up in the zone, and I feel like maybe even compared to last year, it’s a little better.
It appears that the time spent at Driveline in the offseason helped Kershaw after all. He was one of several Dodgers pitchers that spent time at the popular pitching workout center. If Los Angeles is going to compete for a World Series this year, Kershaw’s success is going to be vital.
In 2019, Kershaw had the worst year of his career. But by most other pitcher’s standards, it was actually a fairly decent year. He pitched to a 3.03 earned run average and allowed a career-worst 28 home runs.