Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw faced each other for a third time this season on Thursday. And for the third time it was the reigning National League MVP who came up short against the reigning World Series MVP.
Kershaw was charged with four runs, one of which came on a Bumgarner solo home run, and had seven strikeouts in 7.1 innings. At times he seemed to be in a groove reminiscent of 2014 despite acknowledging after the loss he wasn’t quite at 100 percent, via SportsNet LA:
I didn’t have a whole lot in the tank, honestly. It just wasn’t coming out for whatever reason. I got some outs but that last inning kind of got away from me there, which is unfortunate. Madison pitched really well, so tip your cap again.”
Thursday’s outing came after consecutive starts in which Kershaw threw 110 pitches and when asked if he battled fatigue or other issues, Kershaw responded it was the latter:
You’re going to have those days where you’re not going to have your best stuff. I didn’t feel like I had the best stuff today.”
Amid growing concern over his slow start to the season, Kershaw acknowledged there were some positives he could take from the game, though he was visibly frustrated. The Dodgers’ ace is now 2-3 on the season with a 4.32 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.
While those numbers are very much unlike what’s expected from Kershaw, his 2.89 FIP and 2.26 xFIP are encouraging. Moreover, Kershaw’s 11.26 strikeouts per nine innings is the best ratio of his career and his 73 strikeouts rank third in the Majors heading into Friday’s games.
Kershaw’s next probable start is Tuesday when the Dodgers host the Atlanta Braves, a team he’s 1-0 against with a 2.11 ERA in five career regular-season starts and 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two postseason starts.