Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw signed a seven-year, $215 million contract about two weeks ago and over the week was presented his second Cy Young Award in three years by legend Sandy Koufax. It’s easy for the 25-year-old left-hander to prepare for the 2014 season just like any other, but like the great ones, he’s continually looking to improve.
Since signing the extension, the Kershaw has been on a media tour and spoke to Jim Bowden and Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio about what he’s working on this off-season:
There’s always stuff to get better at. For me, I always go into camp feeling like I have something to prove and show everybody that I do belong there. In the off-season, it’s building back strength and conditioning. As far as pitching, I’m starting to work on a two-seamer a little bit and throw that more. Also, the changeup obviously, that’s been my nemesis and I’m trying to build a better relationship with my change up as well.
In looking at Kershaw’s pitch selection the last six seasons, he’s only thrown 15 two-seam fastballs and hasn’t thrown one since 2009. Fastballs have been his go-to pitch during his career and it would make sense for him to integrate a new variation into his repertoire.
Meanwhile, Kershaw threw only 88 changeups last season and admits that he still hasn’t mastered it, which is a big reason why it was his least used pitch in 2013. Since 2010, Kershaw’s used more sliders than curveballs as he’s seen his K/BB rate improve the past two seasons.
For the third straight season, the Dodgers ace led the National League in ERA and led in strikeouts for two of the last three seasons. It’s clear that Kershaw isn’t satisfied and adding another effective pitch to his arsenal will only frustrate hitters even more.
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