At the peak of his powers, Clayton Kershaw three primary pitches were arguably the best of their type in baseball. He could dot his four-seam fastball anywhere. Backdoor a slider for a strike and of course, absolutely embarrass hitters with his devastating 12-6 curveball. One pitch he never mastered though, is a changeup.
Kershaw is big on routines and one of his annual traditions is tinkering with a changeup in spring training. And then essentially never throwing it during the season. According to FanGraphs, just 2% of Clayton’s pitches since 2008 have been changeups.
During an in-game interview on Wednesday, the three-time Cy Young winner talked about how he attempted to learn Tyler Anderson’s plus-changeup, but to no avail.
“He tried to teach me how to do that. I think I’ve tried to learn 15 different changeups this year alone and I still can’t do it. That’s nasty [Anderson’s changeup]. I didn’t give it much of a try. I tried it like three throws and didn’t like it.”
Clayton explained that he thought the similar makeup of their fastballs would finally translate to a changeup grip he was comfortable with.
“The thing that about T.A. that he does so well is he backspins the ball. His four-seam fastball, he really backs spins it well, gives it that true rise of the fastball. That’s kind of how I throw my fastball so I thought, well, I can maybe try to learn his changeup. He holds it, with these two fingers…I can’t do it, I don’t know, maybe I need to try harder.”
Coincidentally, Anderson induced all three outs while Kershaw had the headset on with changeups. Three changeups, three groundouts.
Kershaw will take the mound on Friday to face the Cleveland Guardian for seventh start of the year. Just don’t expect any Tyler Anderson changeups.
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