It wasn’t the opener that the Dodgers were hoping for, but the 2021 regular season is officially underway.
After an 8-5 loss in Colorado to start the year, Clayton Kershaw was left wondering what went wrong for him in what was his 9th opening day start for the team. It wasn’t his efficiency, as he only threw 77 pitches over 5.2 innings. It also wasn’t his command, as 55 of those 77 pitches were in for strikes.
One thing that stood out from Kershaw’s first outing of the year was his lack of a knockout punch. Even though he managed to go almost 6 full innings, the veteran pitcher only mustered two strikeouts in a ballpark where punchouts are a must. The slider was his go-to pitch on Thursday afternoon, accounting for almost half of his total pitches, but it just didn’t have its usual bite.
“It was good enough to get ground balls today, I just didn’t get the swing and miss with it”, Kershaw said. “But you’re gonna have nights like that for sure.”
It wasn’t all bad for Kershaw, though. While the strikeouts were down, the ground ball rate was not. In total, Clayton engineered 13 ground balls outs versus just one flyout. On any other night, this would’ve meant a clean outing, but a pair of unforced errors kept him from getting out of innings with relative ease.
So was the lack of strikeouts after one game concerning with Clayton Kershaw? Yes and no. You would hope for more than two on any given night from your ace, but it is still just one game. With some tweaks and adjustments, some of those ground balls will become swings and misses, leading to a box score that we are used to seeing from Clayton.