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Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw’s First-Inning Struggles Continue

What’s getting Kershaw ‘got’ in the first frame?

Dodgers

Unfortunately, Clayton Kershaw did not hang a zero in the first inning on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. Furthermore, he allowed back-to-back home runs to Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon which put the Dodgers in an early 2-0 hole.

This post is all about the doldrums of the first inning in 2019 for Kershaw. Indeed, it’s becoming common place for him to give up a few gopher balls early before getting his sea legs underneath him. Typically, once that takes place; he settled in.

Such was the case on Friday night. However, there are some concerning numbers provided to us by Ken Gurnick on twitter.

First off, Kershaw’s ERA in the first inning in 2019 is 6.00 currently. With this being the case, it’s hard to think that Kershaw will go un-scored upon in the first inning throughout the playoffs. While the postseason is known as a second season, the cement has hardened and players are who they have been. Plus, Kershaw’s postseason history has already been a tough road.

Next, Gurnick points out that it’s been a rash of first-inning bombs lately off Kershaw. Equally important, four out of the last six contests have been marked by a homer or more off Kershaw in the first.

Finally, Kershaw has now allowed 27 home runs on the season. A startling total of them of ten have been allowed in the first inning.

Thankfully the Dodger offense came to life to pick Clayton up — after manager Dave Roberts was ejected for the first time this season — and 22 picked up win number 15 on the season (and 99 for the team).

So why do you think that Kershaw is struggling in the first inning? Lack of intensity or preparation? Or is it as simple as random bad luck? Let us know your theory 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.

14 Comments

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  1. Just a hypothesis, but Kersh is in the second half of his career, with less margin for error than before. It takes a bit to fine tune and hit those corners. Then, once loosened up, he’s fine.

  2. Kershaw keeps throwing his weak fastball to get ahead, but instead gets hammered, over & over again.
    They know what he’s going to do and just sit on it. Yet Kershaw keeps doing it.
    He’ll be crushed in the playoffs if he persists

    • One can look at CK’s 15 and 5 record and say heck he’s having a typical Kershaw year, BUT the difference this year is he is averaging, if I heard right about 7 + runs of support per outing, something in earlier years he was not getting. Runs will be much tougher to come by during the PS so if he continues to serve up early bombs, Dodgers could be in trouble, especially if the opposing pitcher is on his game or maybe be even a LHP..

  3. Have Jansen pitch the first inning! Let him give up a dinger or two and then bring in Kershaw in the 2nd! Solves Kershaw’s first inning jinx and keeps Roberts from using Jansen as a closer. Two problems solved ; )

    • Thank you Skoonj6 for making me laugh. Concerns about the Dodgers moving forward(playoffs), Kershaw’s less than stellar playoff history and Jansen’s blowing leads this year.

        • What would happen is Jansen would give up his homerun and then Kershaw would give up his and you’d have double the runs given up because the problem isn’t a 1st inning jinx, it’s him not being ready

  4. 22 is a gamer could be pitch selection and/or decrease in velocity
    Stats tell the first inn story which surprised me but it is what it is
    Suggest he look at film replay for those bad outings
    Win #14 had no first in wows
    No matter what he is our guy
    Even let him close instead of KJ

  5. For whatever reason (I am certainly unable to divine) he does not have his best stuff in the early innings, especially the first. As a result there is little deception, which now that he has permanently lost his very best stuff, is critical to his success. Not that there is a lot you can do without sharpness, he is also stubborn and agro and then challenges the hitters over the plate which turns out frankly to be a disaster. He needs to mix it up more initially and become less predictable.

  6. Pitching or hitting is about preparation, preparation. Only Kershaw knows what his first inning woes are.

    • One other thing I have noticed is that on many occasions the offense is absent for the first few innings completely. That may explain the many come back wins Dodgers have this year.

  7. He has to give us 5 solid innings. He must figure this out. He is always prepared. He better figure it out soon. I trust him more than KJ. The long ball has been both their problems this year. People need to be ready right away in the playoffs. Roberts’s can’t wait but, he gives his vets a longer leash.

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