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Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw Working to Blend Old School and Analytics Together



Times they are a-changin’ around the Dodgers camp. After 14 years at the helm, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt traded in the major league dugout for a cushy front office gig that sends him where ever the club needs him.

Over the last few years, the Dodgers have dabbled with mixing in more of the modern advanced analytics, but still the primary focus of Honeycutt and company appeared to be in game planning and execution.

With Honeycutt stepping back, the 39-year-old Mark Prior took the helm as major league pitching coach for Los Angeles… but he brought company.

Now that company — being the likes of assistant pitching coach Connor McGuiness and pitching coordinator Rob Hill — is tasked with getting a successful and establish group of veterans to buy in on the future. However, at least one pitcher seems to be less than ready to acknowledge the new normal.

Clayton Kershaw spent all 12 of his big league seasons with Rick Honeycutt by his side. But with Honey out of the picture, the veteran gets that things are changing.

We have to understand why we’re changing, and I get that. At the end of the day, it’s, ‘how do you help somebody the best?’ If you have a lot of guys that specialize in a lot of different things, you have a lot of different avenues to help people, which is good.

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The 8-time All-Star Kershaw visited Driveline Baseball in Kent, Washington this off-season. Early in camp, he expressed an appreciation for the program, but it seems that he still has some reservations about all these new analytics going forward.

Some people might be more apt to understand the scientific, mechanical, analytical side. Some people, you might just need to tell them, ‘Stop thinking — just compete,’ and we have a lot of those guys.

I plan on preparing the way I always have. I don’t really know how they’re planning to give me the information — I guess I’ll find out. To me, it’s up to them… it’s not our job to conform to them. It’s their job, as coaches, to learn the players and how they take in and process information and help them with that. It’s their job to figure that out.

It’s easy to understand a man with 3 Cy Young awards and an NL MVP on his mantle having reservations. However, after examing his first outing of spring training last week — an outing where his fastball was sitting 91-93mph — it’s easy to want to push more of the tech-driven approach on the lefty.

Of course, it could be health more than tech that’s driving a “new Kershaw” this spring. His manager Dave Roberts spoke about the Driveline stuff earlier this spring, but also about a better looking ace of Dodgers.

You can watch him and see how much different his body is moving. That in itself is very exciting for all of us. I’m just thrilled with where he is at. All of the other fine-tuning will take care of itself.

How this plays out will be fascinating. Surely there will be headbutting throughout the season, but if success is there with more information, it would be tough to not accept it.

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

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