Dodgers fans got to see another vintage Clayton Kershaw outing on Thursday. His slider was missing bats, his curveball was buckling knees, and his fastball was pinpoint accurate. Kershaw went six innings and struck out 8 Diamondbacks hitters, allowing just 1 hit.
Kershaw’s average fastball velocity is up a little bit in 2020, but he’s also mixing in his slider at a higher rate. That combined with the fact that he’s healthy this year has made for a very effective southpaw. The Dodgers’ pitcher left Thursday’s game with a 1.50 ERA and 0.72 WHIP. Those numbers rank among the top 2 in the National League.
Roberts looks at Clayton's health that's allowing him to pitch more freely.
"He's pitching like an ace again."#Dodgers
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) September 4, 2020
Kershaw spent time this season at the Driveline Academy, mixing in new workouts and locking in on mechanical discrepancies. Whatever he did, it seems to have worked out very well. Kershaw is very quietly turning himself into a Cy Young candidate, and hitting massive milestones in the process. He just hit the 2500 strikeout mark on Thursday and passed a Hall of Fame pitcher on the all-time punchout list.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts talked about Clayton after the game, recognizing that something was different in 2020. That difference? His health.
The number one thing is he’s healthy. And really, Clayton has done a great job trying to get back and working hard diligently every single day with the training staff…For him to be healthy and not have to guard and protect against his body or his back I think it allows him that freedom to execute pitches…He was our ace last year, he’s pitching like an ace again.
At 32-years-old, it’s tough to know how long a pitcher will hold up. After all, Kershaw had to sit out the Dodgers Opening Day after tweaking his back. But that doesn’t change the fact that Kershaw is slowly changing the narrative, and we’re all here for it.