Clayton Kershaw’s performance in the 2015 season has been nothing like that of last season. Although he has pitched well, it is a significant difference than what the Los Angeles Dodger fans are used to seeing.
On Tuesday, the left-hander gave up three runs via two home runs in seven innings. Although the wind was blowing out towards center field on that night, Kershaw has now given up more home runs this season than he did all of the last.
Manager Don Mattingly believes that Kershaw is not pitching poorly, the hitters are just more prepared for him than they were last season, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Guys are ready to play against Clayton Kershaw,” Mattingly said. “He gets everybody’s best effort. It’s not a middle-of-the-season-type of game. It’s like a playoff game.”
This certainly seems to be the case as he averages one home run allowed per nine innings, however, he is still striking out 11.8 per nine as well (a career-high in both categories).
Kershaw’s average game score for the month of June is higher than the previous two months, yet he has a 2-2 record. He has also lowered his ERA nearly one whole point in the last month.
Mattingly may be correct in stating that hitters are more prepared for Kershaw. The left-hander gets an average of one less looking strike per game than he did last season, meaning that he not only throws more balls, but batters are swinging earlier in the counts, mostly when he uses his fastball.
Although the Dodgers are just 8-7 when Kershaw pitches, the team has scored at most three runs in the losses, which means the starter has won every game when the Dodgers score four or more times.
While he is not yet back to his former self, the 27-year-old has been consistently improving his outings with each start, which is a good sign for Kershaw and the team.
Clayton Kershaw Reaches Highest Frustration Vs Rangers